Skip to main content

Full text of "Hayti, or, the Black republic"

See other formats


I? ^7 






Cornell University Library 
F 1921.S14 1889 

Hayti, or, the Black republic. 

3 1924 021 174 564 



■SaHantEite Jprtsg 


i^..';.X i.--^^^.\. =f =™% ,,,£c 

A MAP OF VC\feJ4i 


r A 

-A — 

_ syiLn^'liihMllfS 


Cornell University 

The original of tliis book is in 
tlie Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 







' Haiti, Haiti, pajtjde barbares." 
■^ Napole 




743 AND 745 BROADWAY. 



1. III. 



/ VI. 






















258 z' 



Whilst living in Port-au-Prince, Don Mariano Alvarez, 
my Spanish colleague, remarked to me, " Mon ami, if 
we could return to Hayti fifty years hence, we should 
find the negresses cooking their bananas on the site 
of these warehouses." This judgment is severe, yet 
from what we saw passing under the Salomon Ad- 
ministration it is more than probable — unless in the 
meantime influenced by some higher civilisation — that 
this prophecy will come true. In fact, the negresses 
are already cooking their bananas amid the ruins of 
the best houses of the capital. My own impression, 
after personally knowing the Haytian Eepublic above 
twenty-five years, is, that it is a country in a state of 
rapid decadence. The revolution of 1843 that upset 
President Boyer commenced the era of troubles, which 
have continued to the present day, and the people have 
since been steadily falling to the rear in the race of 

The civil war (1867- 1869) during the Presidency of 
General Salnave destroyed a vast amount of property 
and rendered living in the country districts less secure, 
so that there has been ever since a tendency for the 
more civilised inhabitants to agglomerate in the towns 
and leave the rural communities to fetish-worship and 


cannibalism. Fires, most of them incendiary, have 
swept over the cities; in the commercial as well as 
in the residential quarters of Port-au-Prince it would 
now be difl5cult to find any houses which existed in 
i860, and the fortunes of all have naturally greatly 

When I first arrived in Hayti (January 1863) the 
capital possessed several respectable public and private 
buildings. The palace, though without any architec- 
tural beauty, was large and commodious and well 
siiited to the climate; the Senate, the House of Ee- 
presentatives, the dwellings occupied by several of 
the Ministers, the pretty little theatre, were features 
which have now disappeared, and nothing equal to 
them has taken their place. 

The town of Pdtionville or La Coupe, the summer 
and health resort of the capital, where the best families 
sought a little country life during the great heats, was 
almost entirely destroyed during the revolution of 1868, 
and the proprietors are still too poor to rebuild. 

Society also has completely changed. I saw at balls 
given in the palace in 1863 a hundred well-dressed, 
prosperous families of every shade of colour ; now 
political dissensions would prevent such gatherings, 
even if there were a building in the city which could 
receive them, and poverty has laid its heavy hand 
more or less on all. It is the same in a greater or 
lesser degree in every other town of the republic. 

Agriculture in the plains is also deteriorating, and 
the estates produce much less than formerly, except of 
their staple product, rum, to stupefy and brutalise the 
barbarous lower orders. 


Toreigners, nearly ruined by their losses during the 
constant civil disturbances, are withdrawing from the 
republic, and capital is following them ; and with their 
withdrawal the country must sink still lower. The 
best of the coloured people during the Salomon regime 
also left, as they shunned the fate reserved for them 
by those who had already slaughtered the most pro- 
minent mulattoes. 

In fact, the coloured element, which is the civilising 
element in Hayti, is daily becoming of less importance ; 
internal party strife has injured their political standing, 
and constant intermarriage is causing the race to breed 
back to the more numerous type, and in a few years 
the mulatto section will have made disastrous ap- 
proaches to the negro. The only policy which could 
have saved the mulatto would have been to encourage 
the whites to settle in their country ; yet this course of 
action the coloured men have blindly resisted. 

In spite of all the civilising elements around the 
Haytians, there is a distinct tendency to sink into the 
state of an African tribe. It is naturally impossible 
to foretell the effect of all the influences which are now 
at work in the world, and which seem to foreshadow 
many important changes. We appear standing on the 
threshold of a period of great discoveries, which may 
modify many things, but not man's nature. 

The mass of the negroes of Hayti live in the country 
districts, which are rarely or never visited by civilised 
people; there are few Christian priests to give them 
a notion of true religion ; no superior local officers to 
preyent them practising their worst fetish ceremonies. 
And that these are not confined to the lower classes is 


testified by La VdriU of October i6, 1886, the Haytian 
religious journal published in Port-au-Prince. In an 
article on the country districts near the capital it 
says : — " We have many well-to-do people (jgens ais6s), 
but les services, les harriboulas (ceremonies connected 
with the Vaudoux), and above all the manner of trans- 
mitting property, joined to concubinage, do not permit 
great fortunes to be accumulated. But these well-to- 
do people, in what do they employ their capital ? In 
amusing themselves in the orgies of the Vaudoux" 
This is Haytian testimony. 

In treating of the black and the mulatto, as they 
appeared to me during my residence among them, I 
fear I shall be considered by some to judge harshly ; 
such, however, is not my intention. Brought up under 
Sir James Brooke, whose enlarged sympathies could 
endure no prejudice of race or colour, I do not remem- 
ber ever to have felt any repugnance to my fellow- 
creatures on account of a difference of complexion. 

I have dwelt above forty years among coloured 
people of various races, and am sensible of no prejudice 
against them. Por twelve years I lived in familiar 
and kindly intercourse with Haytians of all ranks and 
shades of colour, and the most frequent and not least 
honoured guests at my table were of the black and 
coloured races. 

All who knew me in Hayti know that I have no 
prejudice of colour; and if I place the Haytians in 
general in an unfavourable light, it is from a strong 
conviction that it is necessary to describe the people as 
they are, and not as one would wish them to be. The 
black and coloured friends who gathered round me 


during my long residence in Port-au-Prince were not 
free from many of the faults -which I have been obliged 
to censure in describing these different sections of the 
population, but they had them in a less degree, or, as 
I was really attached to them, I perhaps saw them in a 
dimmer light. 

I have read with the deepest interest Proude's " Eng- 
lish in the West Indies," and I can but join with him in 
protesting against according popular governments to 
those colonies. I know what the black man is, and I 
have no hesitation in declaring that he is incapable of 
the art of government, and that to entrust him with 
framing and working the laws for our islands is to con- 
demn them to inevitable ruin. What the negro may 
become after centuries of civilised education I cannot 
teU, but what I know is that he is not fit to govern 
now. There are brilliant exceptions doubtless, as the 
black Chief -Justice of Barbadoes, but we must judge 
them as a race, and as a race they are incapable. Our 
colonies should remain crown colonies, and then, with 
due encouragement from home, they would again lift 
their heads. 

The most difficult chapter to write was that on 
" Vaudoux- worship and Cannibalism." I have en- 
deavoured to paint them in the least sombre colours, 
and no one who knows the country will think that I 
have exaggerated ; in fact, had I listened to the testi- 
mony of many experienced residents, I should have 
described rites at which dozens of human victims were 
sacrificed at a time. Everything I have related has 
been founded on evidence collected in Hayti, from 
Haytian official documents, the press of Port-au-Prince, 


from trustworthy officers of the Haytian Government, 
my foreign colleagues, and from residents long estab- 
lished in the country, — principally, however, from 
Haytian sources. 

It may be suggested that I am referring to the past. 
On the contrary, I have been informed on trustworthy 
testimony that in 1887 cannibalism was more rampant 
than ever. A black Government dares not greatly inter- 
fere, as its power is founded on the goodwill of the masses, 
ignorant and deeply tainted with fetish-worship. A 
Haytian writer lately remarked in print, " On se plaisit 
beaucoup de ce que le Vaudoux a reparu grandiose et 
s^rieux." The fetish-dances were forbidden by decree 
under the Government of General Boisrond-Canal, but 
on his fall that decree was repealed, and high officers 
attended these meetings, and distributed money and 
applauded the most frantic excesses. 

General Salomon, who was in power until 1888, lived 
for eighteen years in Europe, married a white French- 
woman, and knew what civilisation was. He pro- 
bably, on his first advent to the Presidency, possessed 
sufficient infiuence in the country to have checked the 
open manifestations of this barbarous worship ; but 
the fate of those of his predecessors who attempted 
to grapple with the evil was not encouraging. It was 
hoped, however, that he would make the attempt, and 
that, grasping the nettle with resolution, he might 
suffer no evil results ; but many doubted not only his 
courage to undertake the task, but even the will ; and 
they, I fear, judged correctly. 

Whether General Salomon was or was not a member 
of the Vaudoux sect has been much discussed ; he was 


accused by the New Ym-h World's correspondent of 
having, during a visit to Fort Libert^, joined in the 
fetish practices of the sect ; ^ and M. Laroche, a Haytian, 
in a letter to the Paris Tem;ps of February 21, 1885, 
after declaring that the details published in the first 
edition of this work were absolutely correct, adds, that 
General Salomon gave this sect " an open and culpable 
protection," and forwarded an extract from the Haytian 
paper Le Feuple of September 24, 1884, showing that 
the Vaudoux dances were openly permitted in Port-au- 

It is too soon to decide this question, but it is highly 
probable that General Salomon, seeing how infected 
his people and army were with Vaudousism, did not 
attempt to discourage it. 

As my chapters on Vaudoux-worship and canni- 
balism excited considerable attention both in Europe 
and the United States, and unmitigated abuse in Hayti, 
I decided again to look into the question with the 
greatest care. The result has been to convince me that 
I underrated its fearful manifestations ; I have there- 
fore rewritten these chapters, and introduced many new 
facts which have come to my knowledge. 

" Out of thy own mouth will I condemn thee, thou 
wicked servant," might well be addressed to the people 
of Hayti, as it is principally to Haytian sources that I 
can now appeal to prove the miserable state into which 
the republic has fallen. Whether it be the spread of 
Vaudoux-worship among the well-to-do people (j/ens 
ais6s) of the country, or cannibalism, or the brutality 
of the police, or the infectious state of the prisons, I 

1 The World, December 5, 1886. 


have but to quote the Haytian papers to prove that I 
had written my first account with rose-water instead 
of with black indelible ink. 

The practice of eating young children and digging 
up freshly buried corpses for brutal ceremonies or for 
food increased so greatly that even General Salomon's 
Government was forced to interfere, and a few men 
and women received trivial punishments. The Hay- 
tians endeavour to excuse these peculiar practices by 
quoting horrible crimes committed in France and else- 
where. Doubtless horrible crimes are committed in 
other countries, but in what country nominally Christian 
would they find a hundred men and women assemble 
for the express purpose of killing one of their own 
children and deliberately cooking and eating its flesh 
in what they consider savoury dishes ? " And who had 
a better right to eat them ? Did I not beget them ? " as 
the Petionville prisoner exclaimed. 

I think it important to quote the opinion of an 
impartial observer who came to the West Indies with 
the full belief that I had misstated the facts relating 
to Vaudoux-worship, or that I had drawn wrong con- 
clusions. However, Mr. Proude is a man of experience 
and observation, and not likely to allow a preconceived 
opinion to influence his judgment. This is the result 
of his inquiries as published in 1888: — "But behind 
the immorality, behind the religiosity, there lies active 
and alive the horrible revival of the West African 
superstitions ; the serpent - worship, and the child- 
sacrifice, and the cannibalism. There is no room to 
doubt it." ^ 

^ The English in the West Indies, Chap. xx. 


Whenever all the documents which exist on this 
subject are published, my chapter on cannibalism will 
be looked upon as but a pale reflection of the reality. 

With regard to the history of the country, materials 
abound for writing a very full one, but I do not think 
it would prove interesting to the general reader, as 
it is but a series of plots and revolutions, followed 
by barbarous military executions. A destructive and 
exhausting war with Santo Domingo and civil strife 
during the Presidency of General Salnave did more 
to ruin the resources of the country than any amount 
of bad government. The enforced abandonment of 
work by the people called to arms by the contending 
factions introduced habits of idleness and rapine which 
have continued to the present day ; and the material 
losses by the destruction of the best estates and the 
burning of towns and villages have never been fully 

From the overthrow of President Geffrard in 1867 
the country has been more rapidly going to ruin 
("Depuis 1868 I'abaissement commence"^). The fall 
was slightly checked during the quiet Presidency of Nis- 
sage-Saget ; but the Government of General Domingue 
amply made up for lost time, and was one of the 
worst, if not the worst, that Hayti had seen ; with the 
Sectaries of the Vaudoux in power, nothing else could 
have been expected. 

In the first edition I brought my sketch of the 
history of Hayti down to the fall of President Boisrond- 
Canal in 1879, and did not touch on the rule of the 
President of Hayti, General Salomon, a black ; events 

1 La ViriU, October 16, 1886. 


are too recent for me to do so now. I may say, how- 
ever, that he was the determined enemy of the coloured 
section of the community; was credited with being 
the chief adviser of the Emperor Soulouque in all his 
most disastrous measures ; and the population is said 
to be now sunk into the lowest depths of poverty. 
" The misery (of the people) is great, immense, intense. 
There are families who are literally dying of hunger. 
If one wishes to know it, one has but to walk through 
the streets at night, as one is certain to be approached 
by the shame-faced poor, who from under a shawl hold 
out the hand. Eemove this shawl and you will see 
people but lately fortunate."^ Probably the widows 
and orphans of those shot under the late despotic 

The civil war which devastated the country during 
1883 and 1884 was marked by more savage excesses 
than any previously known in Haytian history, the 
black authorities hesitating at no step to gain their 
object, which was utterly to destroy the educated 
coloured class. They cared not for the others ; as they 
say, " Mulatte pauvre, li n^gue." 

A few months after the publication of this work I 
met a young married coloured Haytian lady, who said 
to me, "I hear you have written a book about my 
country and called it a ' pays de barbares ; ' " she paused, 
and continued with much emotion, "I do not know 
what you have written, but nothing you can have said 
will have done us any injustice." I was struck by her 
earnest yet sad manner, and wrote to my friend, William 
Maunder, at Port-au-Prince for an explanation. He 

^ Le Peuple, August 12, 1887. 


answered, " During the late insurrection, Salomon deter- 
mined to awe the capital, and sent his soldiery and the 
rabble to attack the houses of the principal mulattoes. 
After firing grape-shot into one, the soldiers rushed in 
and dragged out the proprietor, his wife, daughter, and 
son-in-law. The proprietor they murdered before his 
family, the daughter they stripped naked, and she was 
violated several times by the negroes in the presence of 
an approving and grinning staff of Salomon's officers." 
This was the civilised government which this black 
President introduced into his country. These horrors 
were only stopped when the foreign agents threatened 
to land men from their ships of war and attack the 

A few words as to the origin of this book. In 
1867 I was living in the hills near Port-au-Prince, and 
having some leisure, I began to collect materials and 
write rough drafts of the principal chapters. I was 
interrupted by civil war, and did not resume work 
until after I had left the country. It may have been 
the modifying effects of time, but in looking over the 
chapters as I originally wrote them, I thought that I 
had been too severe in my judgments on whole classes, 
and I have therefore softened the opinions I then 
expressed ; and the greater experience which a further 
residence of seven years gave me enabled me to study 
the people more and avoid too sweeping condemna- 

In my Preface to the French edition of this work, 
I mentioned the way in which it had been received in 
Hayti ; by the press with an outburst of wrath, simu- 
lated, 'tis true, in order to please the black Government ; 



but by the upper classes, whose opinion is of value, 
it -was judged to be "la dure v^rit(5, mais la vdritd." 
Gradually violent anger has been followed by reaction ; 
the book has been quoted in the Senate without pro- 
test, and some of the papers already begin to allow 
that it contains much which is true, whilst the best- 
informed Haytians promised to send me corrections of a 
few errors, but they have failed to find them. 

Since even this Introduction was rewritten, Salomon 
has been driven from power, and is dead. The time 
has not yet arrived when one can fairly judge of the 
effects of his eight or nine years' rule, but I can do 
his memory no injustice when I say, that one of his 
principal objects was to wreak his vengeance on the 
coloured class. An incident in his youth raised his anger 
against them, and various occurrences which took place 
during his long life inflamed his passions, and when 
he seized despotic power he proceeded to exercise it. 
Under various pretexts he arrested the most prominent 
mulattoes, sent them before an abject tribunal, and had 
them shot. Many of the most meritorious and gallant 
young men of the capital and principal cities suffered 
this fate, whilst others sought refuge in exile, until, 
maddened by the news of the execution of their friends, 
they threw themselves, sword in hand, on their enemies, 
and ultimately perished almost to a man. The gallant 
stand made by this noble band of patriots, defending an 
open town for many months against the whole army of 
Hayti, may well be considered to atone for their pre- 
vious political errors. 

In truth, I may well repeat that, like the well-known 
Spanish Marshal, Salomon on his deathbed could have 


Lad but few enemies to forgive, for lie had already shot 
all who had come within his reach. 

Ever since the reign of Soulouque the Haytian 
Government has engaged French writers to publish 
rose-coloured accounts of the Black Eepublic, but 
twenty-four hours in any one of its towns would 
dissipate any illusions which might be entertained. 
Let those who doubt read Froude's graphic description 
of his landing in Port-au-Prince. 

A series of very interesting articles on Hayti appeared 
in the Science Sociale, the last of which, January 1887, 
devoted to the present state of negro society, is especi- 
ally worthy of attention, as it compares the life led by 
the blacks in Hayti with that of their brethren on the 
western shores of Africa. The author of these articles, 
M. A. de Pr^ville, finds " une ressemblance saisissante " 
between these dwellers "des deux cot^s de I'Atlantique." 

Those who cannot visit the West Indies should read 
Froude's book,^ as then the picture of those beautiful 
islands will remain for ever engraven on their memo- 
ries. And I would recommend also the chapters which 
Captain Kennedy has devoted to Hayti,^ where the 
reader will find reference to horrors connected with 
cannibalism of which I was formerly not convinced, 
but which recent trials and incidents in Hayti have 
fully proved. 

It is scarcely worth while to notice what the ignorant 
writers of the French press may say about England, 
but whilst the English Government was demanding a 
settlement of the claims against Hayti, several articles 

' The English in the West Indies. 

2 Sport, Travel, and Adventures, by Captain Kennedy, R.N. 


appeared in Paris journals which exceeded their usual 
license. One under the title of " La Grande Voleuse " 
came out in L'autoriU; it was remarkable for its 
ignorance and stupidity, accusing the English of seeking 
to seize a strategic point on Haytian territory. The state- 
ment would not be worth noticing had not this absurd 
accusation been repeated in every republic in America, 
and did not people continue to repeat it even to the 
present day. When M. de Cassagnac says : — " Tout le 
monde pense que I'Angleterre est essentiellement in- 
solente et lS.che," we smile at his presumption and 
think that he appears to have forgotten history ; it is 
almost comic to hear a Frenchman calling the English 
cowards. He continues, " Cette nation detestable et 
detestee ; " it is a pity he was not in Madrid during the 
Eranco-German war, or he would have heard shouts 
which would have wounded his delicate sensibilities. 

Although Haytians, like others, are hurt by any 
reflection on their conduct, I will express a hope that 
if a really enlightened coloured or black man succeed 
to the Presidency, he, supported by the public opinion 
of the civilised world, will attempt a radical reform 
in the habits of the lower orders, and thus render 
unnecessary any further reference to their peculiar 

Mexico, October iS88. 

P.S. — In my Introduction I have stated tliat no 
Haytian had come forward to answer any of the 
charges contained either in the first edition of this 
work or in the Erench translation. Yesterday, how- 


ever, I received, presumably from the author, a 
pamphlet entitled " line conference sur Haiti. En 
r^ponse aux d^tracteurs de ma race , notamment k Sir 
Spenser St. John, Ministre Pldnipotentiaire de S. M. 
Bau Mexique. Par Arthur Bowler, . Avocat. Paris, 
Dentu, (Septembre) 1888." 

I was very pleased to receive this brochure, which, 
instead of being an answer, confirms by its silence all 
my important statements, that remain still uncontra- 
dicted by any one, as my readers will notice when I 
refer to the trifling objections which M. Bowler makes 
to a few paragraphs. I may remark, however, that, as 
far as I can remember, I had never previously heard of 
this gentleman, who, if a Haytian, is evidently not 
familiar either with his own country or its press, and 
but lightly skims over a few paltry details with a poor 
attempt at persiflage. 

M. Bowler's first correction is, that I am mistaken 
in stating that La Selle, &c., are the highest mountains 
in Hayti, as there are higher in Santo Domingo, about 
which republic I was not writing. 

2. He refers to a story told at page 164 of a mother 
teaching her son to cheat. In answer to his doubt, I 
may inform him that I overheard the conversation 
myself. In his comments on this anecdote he shows 
how little he knows of the value of paper money. 

3. " That the negro has a great propensity for pilfer- 
ing." That is what the blacks say of each other, and 
my thirteen years' experience of Hayti confirms the 
saying. It was an old sojourner in Hayti, M. Faton, 
who declared, in joke we will suppose, " that no negro 
ever left a room without looking round to see that he 


had not forgotten something." This story was told me 
with great glee by a black President of the municipality 
of Port-au-Prince, who added, that those who had 
plantations in the hills suffered much from this pro- 
pensity. Let M. Bowler ask the peasantry why they 
never allow their fruit to ripen on the trees. It would 
be as well for M. Bowler not to quote the testimony of 
French authors paid by the Haytian Government to 
give a rose-coloured picture of the Black Eepublic. 

4. I am afraid that M. Bowler's knowledge of either 
English or French is defective when he translates, 
" God spoilt them, and God will repair them " — " Dieu 
I'a salie, Dieu la nettoiera." Another proof of his 
want of familiarity with Hayti is the remark that no 
native would address a foreigner in Creole, when nine- 
tenths of the inhabitants can speak no other language, 
and in familiar intercourse the upper classes seldom 
speak French. 

5. M. Bowler objects that I have not introduced into 
my book any reference to a certain banquet given to 
me in Port-au-Prince, but I have as far as possible 
avoided anything which might be considered personal 
to myself, or I should have had many a story to relate- 
The principal idea of the book was to depict the 
manners of the popular and the untravelled classes, as 
those of the upper are much the same in most countries. 
My impression is, that the civilised portion of the in- 
habitants, although annoyed at the necessary publicity, 
were pleased that some one had the courage to expose 
the barbarous customs of the people, in the hope that 
the hostile criticism would rouse the governing classes 
to an effort to improve the customs as well as the 


education • of- Jjhe people. It was left to a narrow- 
minded " avocat " to put down to hate the performance 
of a duty which would be considered sacred by any 
enlightened lover of mankind. 

6. M. Bowler protests against my assertion that, as a 
rule, the mulatto detests the white. Not always the 
individual, but the race. That he despises the black, 
and in return is disliked by him, is too true. This does 
not prevent individual friendships. The lower orders, 
however, consider a rich, well-educated black as a 
mulatto, whilst a poor mulatto is looked upon as a 
negro. The popular saying runs : — 

" Nfegue riche, 11 mulatte ; 
Mulatte pauvre, 11 nfegue." 

Probably M. Bowler never heard that saying. If 
the history of Hayti under Soulouque, Domingue, and 
Salomon, with all its blood-stained incidents, will not 
convince him of the detestation with which these two 
sections of the community generally regard each other, 
nothing will. When I wrote my description of the 
population of Hayti, I described what I knew to be 

7. M. Bowler had better consult Blackstone's Com- 
mentaries before he ventures again to state what the 
old common law of England was, and to aid his re- 
searches I will direct him to Book I. Chapter xv. : — 
" Any contract made, per verba de prsesenti, or in 
words of the present tense, . . . between persons able 
to contract, was before the late Act deemed a valid 
marriage," &c., &c. 

And these are all the supposed erroneous statements 


which M. Bowler has been able to find in this work, 
and I may add not one of them is in the least erroneous. 
He does not even hint a denial of the Vaudoux-worship, 
or the cannibalism which accompanies it, the eating of 
children, the digging up of corpses for food or fetish 
rites, the professional poisoners, or the child-stealers ; 
nor does he say a word to disprove my account of the 
brutality of the police, the fearful state of the prisons, 
the corruption of the judges, or the cruelties practised 
on, and by the soldiers, and the barbarous military 

Knowing how useless it was to deny the truth of 
these statements, acknowledged as true by all the best 
of his countrymen, M. Bowler has let judgment go by 
default, and he has been wise in his generation. 

Mexico, November 13, 1S88. 






Standing on one of the lofty mountains of Hayti, and 
looking towards the interior, I was struck with the 
pertinence of the saying of the Admiral, who, crumpling 
a sheet of paper in his hand, threw it on the table 
before George III., saying, " Sire, Hayti looks like 
that." The country appears a confused agglomeration 
of mountain, hill, and valley, most irregular in form; 
precipices, deep hollows, vales apparently without an 
outlet ; water occasionally glistening far below ; cottages 
scattered here and there, with groves of fruit-trees 
and bananas clustering round the rude dwellings. Gra- 
dually, however, the eye becomes accustomed to the 
scene ; the mountains separate into distinct ranges, the 
hills are but the attendant buttresses, and the valleys 


assume their regular forms as tlie watershed^ of the 
system, and the streams can be traced meandering 
gradually towards the ocean. 

If you then turn towards the sea, you notice that 
the valleys have expanded into plains, and the rushing 
torrents have become broad though shallow rivers, and 
the mountains that bound the fiat, open country push 
their buttresses almost into the sea. This grand variety 
of magnificent scenery can be well observed from a 
point near Kenskoff, about ten miles in the interior 
from the capital, as well as from the great citadel built 
on the summit of La Perri^re in the northern province. 
Before entering into particulars, however, let me give 
a general idea of the country. 

Tlie island of Santo Domingo is situated in the West 
Indies between i8° and 20° north latitude and 68° 
20' and 74° 30' west longitude. Its greatest length is 
four hundred miles, its greatest breadth one hundred 
and thirty-five miles, and is calculated to be about the 
size of Ireland. Hayti occupies about a third of the 
island — the western portion — and, pushing two great 
promontories into the sea, it has a very large extent of 
coast-line. It is bounded on the north by the Atlantic 
Ocean, on the east by the republic of Santo Domingo, 
on the south by the Caribbean Sea, and on the west by 
the passage which separates it from Cuba and Jamaica. 

Its most noted mountain ranges are La Selle, which 
lies on the south-eastern frontier of Hayti ; La Hotte, 
near Les Cayes; and the Black Mountains iu the 


northern province; but throughout the whole extent 
of the republic the open valleys are bounded by lofty 
elevations. In fact, on approaching the island from 
any direction, it appears so mountainous that it is diffi- 
cult to imagine that so many smiling, fertile plains are to 
be met -with in every department. They are, however, 
numerous. The most extensive are the Cul-de-Sac, near 
Port-au-Prince, the plains of Gonaives, the Artibonite, 
Arcahaie, Port Margot, Leog§,ne, that of Les Cayes, and 
those that follow the northern coast. 

Hayti has the advantage of being well watered, 
though this source of riches is greatly neglected. The 
principal river is the Artibonite, which is navigable for 
small craft for a short distance ; the other streams have 
more the character of mountain torrents, full to over- 
flowing during the rainy season, whilst during the dry 
they are but rivulets running over broad pebbly beds. 

The lakes lying at the head of the plain of Cul-de- 
Sac are a marked feature in the landscape as viewed 
from the neighbouring hills. They are but little visited, 
as their shores are marshy, very unhealthy, and unin- 
habitable on that account, while the swarms of mos- 
quitoes render even a temporary stay highly disagree- 
able. The waters of one of them are brackish, which 
would appear to indicate salt deposits in the neigh- 

There are a few islands attached to Hayti, the prin- 
cipal. La Tortue on the north, Gonave on the west, 
and L'lsle-k-Vache on the south coast. Some attempts 


have been made to develop their natural riches, but as 
yet with but moderate success. The first two named 
are famous for their mahogany trees, and at La Gonave 
fish abound to so great an extent, that a very important 
industry might be established there. 

The principal towns of the republic are Port-au- 
Prince, the capital, Cap Haitien in the north, and 
Les Cayes in the south. Jacmel, J^r^mie, Miragoane, 
St. Marc, and Gonaives are also commercial ports. 

Port-au-Prince is situated at the bottom of a deep 
bay, which runs so far into the western coast as almost 
to divide Hayti in two. It contains about 20,000 in- 
habitants, and was carefully laid out by the French. 
It possesses every natural advantage that a capital 
could require. Little use, however, is made of these 
advantages, and the place is one of the most unpleasant 
residences imaginable. I was one day talking to a 
French naval officer, and he observed, " I was here as 
a midshipman forty years ago." "Do you notice any 
change ? " I asked. " Well, it is perhaps dirtier than 
before." Its dirt is its great drawback, and appears 
ever to have been so, as Moreau de St. Mery com- 
plained of the same thing during the last century. 
However, there are degrees of dirt, and he would pro- 
bably be astonished to see it at the present day. The 
above paragraph was first written in 1867; since that 
it has become worse, and when I last lauded (1877), I 
found the streets heaped up with filth. It does not 
appear to have improved, as the following extract from 


" The English iu the West Indies " by Froude (chap. 
XX.) -will prove : — 

"After breakfast we landed. I had seen Jacmel, and 
therefore thought myself prepared for the worst which I 
could find. Jacmel was an outlying symptom ; Port-au- 
Prince was the central ulcer. Long before we came to 
shore, there came off whiffs, not of drains as at Havana, 
but of active dirt fermenting in the sunlight. Calling 
our handkerchiefs to our help, and looking to our feet 
carefully, we stepped up upon the quay and walked 
forward as judiciously as we could. With the help of 
stones we crossed a shallow ditch, where rotten fish, 
vegetables, and other articles were lying about promis- 
cuously, and we came on what did duty for a grand 
parade. We were in a Paris of the gutter with boule- 
vards and places, fiacres and crimson parasols. The 
boulevards were littered with the refuse of the houses 
and were foul as pigsties, and the ladies under the 
parasols were picking their way along them in Parisian 
boots and silk dresses. I saw a fiacre broken down 
in a black pool, out of which a blacker ladyship was 

The capital is well laid out, with lines of streets 
running parallel to the sea, whilst others cross at right 
angles, dividing the town into numerous islets or blocks. 
The street are broad, but utterly neglected. Every 
one throws out his refuse before his door, so that heaps 
of manure, broken bottles, crockery, and every species 
of rubbish encumber the way, and render both riding 


and walking dangerous. Building materials are per- 
mitted occasionally to accumulate to so great an extent 
as completely to block up the streets and seriously 
impede the traffic. Mackenzie, in his notes on Hayti, 
remarks on the impassable state of the streets in 1 826 ; 
torn up by tropical rains, they were mended with refuse 
(generally stable-dung to fill up the holes, and a thin 
layer of earth thrown over), only to be again de- 
stroyed by the first storm.^ Ask Haytians why they do 
not mend their streets and roads ; they answer, " Bon 
Dieu gat^ li ; bon Dieu pare li " (God spoilt them, and 
God will mend them). Then, as now, the roads were in 
such a state in wet weather that only a waggon with a 
team of oxen could get through the muddy slough. 

On first entering the town, you are struck with the 
utter shabbiness of the buildings, mean cottages and 
grovelling huts by the side of the few decent-looking 
dwellings. Most of the houses are constructed of 
wood, badly built, with very perishable materials, im- 
ported from the United States or our Northern colonies. 

" II est un systfeme detestable chez nous pour la reparation des 
rues. XTne voie publique, est-elle defonc^e ? Vite de la paille du fumier 
et des detritus de toutes sortes pour la combler. Le niveau des rues, 
est-il altere ? On essayera de la r^tablir en jetant quelques brouettees 
de paille h I'endroit inoins eiev^. Enfin, I'eau d'une rigole, ohange-t- 
elle son lit et envahit-elle la voie ? On ne trouvera rien de mieux pour 
en arreter le coulement que de mettre dans la marre des tas de furaier. 
Qu'arrive-t-il ? Au moindre grain de pluie, toutes ces paiiles entrent 
en decomposition et comme elles sont mdiees avec des matieres ani- 
nnales, il s'y degage outre I'aoide carbonique, des acides, des odeurs de 
toutes sortes qui ne sont pas predsement f aJtes pour donner de la sante." 
— La Verity, June iS. 


The idea that originally prevailed in the construction 
of the private houses was admirable ; before each was 
a broad verandah, open to all passers, so that from one 
end of the town to the other it was intended that there 
should be cool, shady walks. But the intolerable stupi- 
dity of the inhabitants has spoilt this plan ; in many 
streets the level of the verandahs of each house is of a 
different height, and frequently separated by a marshy 
spot, the receptacle of every species of filth ; so that you 
must either walk in the sun or perform in the shade a 
series of gymnastic exercises exceedingly inconvenient 
in a tropical climate. 

On either side of the street was a paved gutter, but 
now, instead of aiding the drainage, it is another cause 
of the accumulation of filth. , The stones which for- 
merly rendered the watercourses even have been either 
removed or displaced, and the rains collecting before 
the houses form fetid pools, into which the servants 
pour all that in other countries is carried off by the 
drains. In a few of the more commercial streets, where 
foreigners reside, some attention is paid to cleanliness, 
but still Port-au-Prince may bear the palm away of 
being the most foul-smelling, dirty, and consequently 
fever-stricken city in the world. 

The port is well protected, but is gradually filling up, 
as the rains wash into it not only the silt from the 
mountains, but the refuse of the city, and no effort 
is made to keep it open. As there is but little tide, 
the accumulations of every species of vegetable and 


animal matter render the water fetid, and when the sea- 
breeze blows gently over these turbid waves, an efflu- 
via is borne into the town sickening to all but native 

The most remarkable edifice of Port-au-Prince was 
the palace, a long, low, wooden building of one storey, 
supported on brick walls : it contained several fine 
rooms, and two halls which might have been rendered 
admirable for receptions ; but everything around it was 
shabby — the stables, the guard-houses, the untended 
garden, the courtyard overrun with grass and weeds, 
and the surrounding walls partially in ruins. This spa- 
cious presidential residence was burnt down during the 
revolutionary attack on Port-au-Prince in December 
1869, and no attempt has been made to rebuild it.^ 

The church is a large wooden building, an over- 
grown shed, disfigured by numerous wretched paint- 
ings which cover its walls ; and, as an unworthy con- 
cession to local prejudice, our Saviour is occasionally 
represented by an ill-drawn negro.^ 

The senate-house was the building with the most 
architectural pretensions, but its outer walls only re- 
mained when I last saw it, fire having destroyed the 
roof and the interior wood-work. There is no other 
edifice worthy of remark ; and the private houses, with 

1 President Salomon built a smaller residence near the former site 
of the palace. 

"^ " Above the market was the cathedral, more hideous than even 
the Mormon temple at Salt Lake." — Froude, chap. xx. 


■perhaps a score of exceptions, are of the commonest 

The market-places are large and -well situated, but 
ill-tended and dirty, and in the wet season muddy in 
the extreme. They are fairly supplied with provisions. 
I may notice that in those of Port-au-Prince very 
superior meat is often met with, and good supplies of 
vegetables, including excellent European kinds, brought 
from the mountain gardens near Fort Jaques. 

The supply of water is very defective. During the 
reign of the Emperor Soulouque a bright idea occurred 
to some one, that instead of repairing the old French 
aqueduct, iron pipes should be laid down. The Emperor 
had the sagacity to see the advantage of the plan, and 
gave orders for the work to be done. As an excep- 
tion to the general rule, the idea was to a certain 
extent well carried out, and remains the only durable 
monument of a most inglorious reign. Had the iron 
pipes been entirely substituted for the old French 
work, the inhabitants would have enjoyed the benefit 
of pure water ; but when I left, in i ^iTJ, the people in 
the suburbs were still breaking open the old stone- 
work to obtain a source of supply near their dwell- 
ings ; and pigs, children, and washerwomen congregated 
round these spots and defiled the stream. 

The amount of water introduced into the town is still 
most inadequate ; and though numerous springs, and 
one delightful stream. La Eiviere Froide, are within easy 
distance of the port, no sufficient effort has been made 


to increase the supply. La Eivi^re ]Froide — name redo- 
lent of pleasant reminiscences in a tropical climate — 
could easily fill a canal, which would not only afford 
an inexhaustible supply for the wants of the town and 
shipping, but, by creating an outward current, would 
carry off the floating matter which pollutes the port. 
Since my departure an Englishman commenced some 
works to afford the town a constant supply of water, 
but these, I understand, have as yet only been partially 
carried out. I am informed, however, that the spring 
at Marquessant has also been utilised, and now aids the 
inadequate amount which flows from Tourjeau. 

The cemetery is situated outside the town. I never 
entered it except when compelled to attend a funeral, 
and hastened to leave it as soon as possible, on account 
of an unpleasant odour which pervaded it. It is not 
kept in good order, though many families carefully 
attend to the graves of their relatives, and there are 
several striking tombs. People of all religions are 
buried here ; but it is on record that a brawling Irish 
priest once attempted to disinter a Protestant child. 
His brawling subsequently led to his banishment. 

I noticed on my first arrival in Port-au-Prince two 
marble cof&ns, very handsome, lying neglected on the 
ground outside the palace. I was told they had been 
brought from abroad in order that the remains of Petion 
and Boyer, two of their best Presidents, should repose in 
them ; but for many years I saw them lying empty on 
the same spot, and I never heard what became of them. 


The curse of Port-au-Prince is fire. Every few years 
immense conflagrations consume whole quarters of the 
town. Nothing can stop the flames but one of the 
few brick-houses, against which the quick-burning fire 
is powerless. During my residence in Port-au-Prince 
five awful fires devastated the town, and on each occasion 
from two to five hundred houses were destroyed. And 
yet the inhabitants go on building wretched wooden 
match-boxes, and even elaborate houses of the most in- 
flammable materials. Companies should be carefal how 
they insure property in Port-au-Prince, as there are some 
very well-authenticated cases of frauds practised on 
them both by Europeans and natives. 

Port-au-Prince, on my first arrival in 1863, was 
governed by a municipality, over which presided a very 
honest man, a Monsieur Eiviere, one of those Protes- 
tants to whom I have referred in my chapter on reli- 
gion. As. a new arrival, I thought the town suSiciently 
neglected, but I had reason to change my opinion. 
It was a pattern of cleanliness to what it subsequently 
became. The municipality, when one exists, has for its 
principal duties the performance or neglect of the regis- 
tration of all acts relating to the "etat civil," and to 
divide among its members and friends, for work never 
eflieiently carried out, whatever funds they can collect 
from the city. 

At the back of the capital, at a distance of about five 
miles, is the village of La Coupe, the summer resi- 
dence of the wealthier families. As it was situated 


about 1 200 feet above the level of the sea and was 
open to every breeze, it afforded a delightful change 
from the hot, damp town ; but during the civil war of 
1 868 the best houses were destroyed and never recon- 
structed. There is a natural bath there, the most 
picturesque feature of the place; it is situated under 
lofty trees, that cast a deep shade over the spot, and 
during the hottest day it is charmingly cool. 

Cap Haitien is the most picturesque town in the 
republic ; it is beautifully situated on a most com- 
modious harbour. As you enter it, passing Fort Picolet, 
you are struck by its safe position — a narrow entrance 
so easily defended. My first visit was in H.M.S. 
Gcdatea, Captain Macguire; and as we expected that 
we might very possibly be received by the fire of all 
the batteries, our own crew were at their guns, keeping 
them steadily trained on Fort Picolet, whose artillery 
was distant about a couple of hundred yards. Having 
slowly steamed past forts and sunken batteries, we 
found ourselves in front of the town, with its ruins 
overgrown with creepers, and in the background the 
rich vegetation sweeping gracefully up to the summit 
of the beautiful hill which over-shadows Cap Haitien. 

Cap Haitien never recovered from the effects of the 
fearful earthquake of 1842, when several thousands of 
its inhabitants perished. To this day they talk of that 
awful event, and never forget to relate how the country- 
people rushed in to plunder the place, and how none 
lent a helping-hand to aid their half-buried country- 


men. Captain Macguire and myself used to wander 
about the. ruins, and we could not but feel how little 
energy remained in a people who could leave their pro- 
perty in. such a state. It was perhaps cheaper to build 
a trumpery house elsewhere. 

One of those who suffered the most during that 
visitation wrote, before the earth had ceased trembling, 
" Against the acts of God Almighty no one com- 
plains," and then proceeded to relate how the dread 
earthquake shook down or seriously injured almost 
every house; how two-thirds of the inhabitants were 
buried beneath the fallen masonry; how the bands 
of blacks rushed in from mountain and plain, not to 
aid in saving their wretched countrymen, whose cries 
and groans could be heard for two or three days, but 
to rob the stores replete with goods ; and — what 
he did complain of — how the officers and men of the 
garrison, instead of attempting to keep order, joined 
in plundering the small remnants of what the surviving 
inhabitants could save from the tottering ruins. What 
a people ! 

The most striking objects near Cap Haitien are 
the remains of the palace of Sans Souci, and of the 
citadel constructed by King Christophe, called La 
Ferrifere. It requires a visit to induce one to believe 
that so elaborate, and, I may add, so handsome a struc- 
ture, could exist in such a place as Hayti, or that a 
fortification like the citadel could ever have been 
constructed on the summit of a lofty mountain, five 


thousand feet, I believe, above the level of the sea. 
Some of the walls are eiglity feet in height and six- 
teen feet in thickness, where the heavy batteries of 
English guns still remain in position. All is of the 
most solid masonry, and covering the whole peak of 
the mountain. 

"We were really lost in amazement as we threaded 
gallery after gallery where heavy fifty-six and thirty- 
two pounders guarded every approach to what was 
intended to be the last asylum of Haytian inde- 
pendence. Years of the labour of toiling thousands 
were spent to prepare this citadel, which the trem- 
bling earth laid in ruins in a few minutes. "What 
energy did this black king possess to rear so great a 
monument ! But the reverse of the medal states that 
every stone in that wonderful building cost a human 

It is a popular idea in Hayti that the superiority of 
the northern department, and the greater industry of its 
inhabitants, date from the time of King Christophe, and 
some express a belief that his iron system was suitable 
to the country ; but the fact is that Moreau de St. Mdry, 
writing in the last century, insists on the superior ad- 
vantages of the northern province, its greater fertility, 
the abundance of rain, and consequently the number of 
rivers, as well as the superior intelligence and industry 
of the inhabitants, and their greater sociability and 
polish. They are certainly more sociable than in the 
capital, and people still seek northern men to work 


on their estates. As for Christophe's system, no 
amount of increase of produce could compensate for 
its brutality. 

Gonaives is a poor-looking town, constantly devas- 
tated by revolutions and fires, with a few broad, un- 
finished streets, and some good houses among the 
crowds of mean buildings. This neighbourhood is 
famous for what are called white truffles, which are 
dried and sent to the different parts of the republic. 

St. Marc, though not so scattered as Gonaives, is a 
small place. It was formerly built of stone, and a few 
specimens of this kind of building still remain. Jacmel 
has a very unsafe harbour, but possesses importance as 
one of the ports at which the royal mail-steamers call, 
and has a large export trade in coffee. Les Caves, 
J^remie, and other smaller ports I have only seen at 
a distance, but I hear they are much like the other 
cities and towns of the republic. Maclienzie says that 
the city and environs of Les Cayes are described as 
" tr^s riantes," and that in his time it was kept in better 
order than the capital. Tliis is said still to be the case. 
My last long ride in Hayti was from Cap Haitien 
to Gonaives, and nestling in tlie hills I found some 
very pretty villages, planted in lovely sites, with cool, 
babbling streams, and fruit groves hiding the inferior- 
looking houses. The place I most admired was, I think, 
called Plaisance. There was a freshness, a brightness, 
a repose about the village that made me regret it was 
situated so far from the capital. 


Wherever you may ride in the mountains, you can- 
not fail to remark that there is scarcely a decent-look- 
ing house out of the towns. The whole of the country 
is abandoned to the small cultivators, whose inferior 
cottages are met with at every turn, and, as might be 
expected from such a population, very dirty and devoid 
of every comfort, rarely any furniture beyond an old 
chair, a rickety table, a few sleeping-mats, and some 
cooking utensils. There is no rule, however, without 
an exception, and I remember being much struck by 
seeing at Kenskoff, a small hamlet about ten or twelve 
miles direct from Port-au-Prince, a good house, where 
there were some chairs, tables, and bedsteads, and 
around this dwelling several huts, in which the wives 
of our host lived separately. 

Now and then a peasant will build a larger house 
than usual. We met with one, the last we slept in ou 
our ride to the mountain La Selle, whose proprietor 
had really some ideas of comfort, and before whose 
dwelling coffee-bushes were growing, trimmed to the 
height of six feet, placed separate from one another, 
perfectly clean, and covered with indications of an 
abundant crop. They had been planted there in former 
days by an intelligent proprietor, and the peasant had 
the merit of not neglecting them. 

The plain qf Cul-de-Sac, adjoining the north side of 
Port-au-Prince, was one of the richest and most cul- 
tivated during the time of the French; and as all 
regular cultivation depends on the amount of water 


available, their engineers had constructed the most 
careful system for the storage and distribution of the 
supplies. Properly managed, all the large estates could 
receive the quantity necessary for their lands ; but for 
many years the stone- work was neglected, and the grand 
barrage was becoming useless, when President Gef- 
frard placed the affair in the hands of an able French 
engineer, who efficiently restored the main work, but 
had not funds to complete the canals for distribut- 
ing the waters. As usual in all enterprises in that 
country, the money voted had to pass through so 
many hands, that before it reached the engineer it 
had diminished to less than half. 

The soil of the plain is most fertile, and only appears 
to require water to give the most promising crops of 
sugar-cane. There are some very extensive estates, 
that could afford work for a large population, but 
the ever-increasing disturbances in the country render 
capital shy of venturing there. 

As might readily be supposed, the roads are greatly 
neglected, and during the rainy season are almost 
impassable. They are composed simply of the sur- 
rounding soil, with a few branches thrown into the 
most dangerous holes. The bridges are generally 
avoided; it is a saying in Hayti, that you should go 
round a bridge, but never cross it, and the advice is 
generally followed. For the main streams there are 
fords. An attempt was once made to bridge over La 


Grande Eivifere du Cul-de-Sac, but the first freshet 
washed away all the preliminary work. 

In the mountains there are only bridle-paths, though 
occasionally I came across the remains of old French 
roads and good paths. On the way to Kenskoff there is 
a place called L'Escalier, to escalade the steepest side 
of the mountain. The horses that are used to it manage 
well, but those from the plains find the steps awk- 
ward. On the road from Gonaives to the northern pro- 
vince there is a very remarkable paved way, the work so 
well done that it has resisted the rain during a hun- 
dred years of neglect. Some of the bridle-paths in the 
north are exceedingly good, and are admirably carried 
up the sides of hills, so as to avoid the most difficult 

In the range above Tourjeau I came across a very 
pretty grassy bridle-path, and near it I found the remains 
of a large French country-house, evidently the residence 
of some great proprietor. The tradition in the neigh- 
bourhood is that there was an indigo-factory adjoining, 
but I could scarcely imagine the site suitable. Wher- 
ever you may go in Hayti, you come across signs of 
decadence, not only from the exceptional prosperity of 
the French period, but even of comparatively recent 
years. After the plundering and destruction of 1868 
and 1869, few care to keep up or restore their devas- 
tated houses, and it is now a hand-to-mouth system. 

Cul-de-Sac is a glorious plain, and in good bands 
would be a fountain of riches ; and the same may be 


said of the other splendid plains that abound through- 
out the island. Every tropical plant grows freely, so 
that there would be no limit to production should the 
country ever abandon revolutions to turn its attention 
to industry. About three-fourths of the surface of the 
plains are occupied by scrub, a prickly acacia, that 
invades every uncultivated spot. 

The mounta,ins that bound these plains and extend 
to the far interior present magnificent sites for pleasant 
residences ; but no- civilised being could occupy them 
on account of the difficulty of communication, and the 
doubtful character of the population. Up to the time 
of the fall of President Gefifrard it was possible ; now 
it would be highly imprudent. In one of the most 
smiling valleys that I have ever seen, lying to the left 
whilst riding to the east of Kenskoff, a friend of mine 
possessed a very extensive property. The place looked 
so beautiful that I proposed to him a lengthened visit, 
to which he acceded. Delay after delay occurred, 
and then the civil war of 1865 prevented our leaving 
Port-au-Prince.. In 1869, there were arrested in that 
valley a dozen of the worst cannibals of the Vaudoux 
sect, and the police declared that the whole popula- 
tion of that lovely garden of the country was given 
up to fetish-worship. It was probably a knowledge 
of this that made my friend so long defer our pro- 
posed visit, as the residence of a white man among 
them might have been looked upon with an evil 


I have travelled in almost every quarter of the 
globe, and I may say that, taken as a whole, there is 
not a finer island than that of Santo Domingo. No 
country possesses greater capabilities or a better geo- 
graphical position, or more variety of soil, of climate, 
and of production, with magnificent scenery of every 
description, and hill-sides where the pleasantest of 
health-resorts might be established. And yet it is 
now the country to be most avoided, ruined as it has 
been by a succession of self-seeking politicians, without 
honesty or patriotism, content to let the people sink to 
the condition of an African tribe, that their own selfish 
passions may be gratified. 

The climate of Hayti is of the ordinary tropical 
character, and the temperature naturally varies accord- 
ing to the position of the towns. Cap Haitien, being 
exposed to the cooling influence of the breezes from 
the north, is much more agreeable as a residence than 
Port-au-Prince, which is situated at the bottom of a 
deep bay. 

In summer, that is, during the months of June, July, 
August, and September, the heat is very oppressive. 
The registered degrees give one an idea of the disagree- 
ableness of the climate. In my house at Tourjeau, near 
Port-au-Prince, 600 feet above the level of the sea, I 
have noted a thermometer marking 97" in the drawing- 
room at 2 P.M. in July, and 95° in the dining-room on 
the ground-floor ; and in a room off a court in the town 


I have heard of 103" — no doubt from refraction.^ At 
the Petit S^minaire the priests keep a register, and I 
notice that rarely is the heat marked as 95°; generally 
93.2° is the maximum; but the thermometer must be 
kept in the coolest part of the college, and is no criterion 
of what is felt in ordinary rooms. The nights also are 
oppressively warm, and for days I have noticed the 
registering thermometer seldom marking less than 
80° during the night. In August the heat is even 
greater than in July, rising to 97° at the Petit S^mi- 
naire, whilst in September the maximum is registered 
as 91.5°; and this heat continues well on into 
November, the maximum being the same. I have 
not the complete returns, but generally the heats of 
September are nearly equal to those of August. In 
what may be called winter, the thermometer rarely 
marks over 84°, and the nights are cool and pleasant. 
In fact, I have been assured of the thermometer having 
fallen as low as 58° during the night, but I never 
saw it myself below 60°. It is a curious fact that 
foreigners generally suffer from the heat, and get ill in 
consequence, whilst the natives complain of the bitter 
cold of the winter, and have their season of illness 

Port-au-Prince is essentially unhealthy, and yellow- 
fever too often decimates the crews of the ships of 
war that visit its harbour. In 1 869, on account of the 

^ Mackenzie states that he noticed the thermometer marking 99° 
every day for considerable periods. 


civil convulsions, Prench and English vessels remained 
months in harbour. The former suffered dreadfully; 
the Zimier, out of a crew of io6 men and eight 
officers, lost fifty-four men and four officers, whilst 
the D'Udr^ and another had to mourn their captains 
and many of their crew. Who that ever knew him 
can forget and not cherish the memory of Captain De 
Varannes of the B'EsMs, one of the most sympa- 
thetic of men, a brilliant officer, and a steady upholder 
of the French and English alliance? De Varannes 
was an Imperialist, an aide-de-camp of the Empress, 
and thoroughly devoted to the family that had made 
his fortune. When the medical men announced to 
him that he had not above two hours to live, he 
asked the French agent if he had any portraits of 
the Imperial family ; they were brought and placed 
at the foot of the bed where he could see them. He 
asked then to be left alone, and an hour after, when a 
friend crept in, he found poor De Varannes dead, with 
his eyes open, and apparently fixed on the portraits 
before him. I should add that both these vessels 
brought the fever tp Port-au-Prince from Havana and 

The English ships suffered less, as our officers are 
not bound by the rigid rules that regulate the French 
commanders, who would not leave the harbour without 
express orders from their Admiral, though their men 
were dying by dozens. Captain Hunter of the Vestal 
and Captain Salmon of the Defence knew their duty 


to their crews too well to keep them in the pestilential 
harbour, and as soon as yellow-fever appeared on board, 
steamed away ; and the latter went five hundred miles 
due north till he fell in with cool weather, and thus 
only lost three men. A French officer told me that 
when the sailors on board the Limier saw the De- 
fence steam out of harbour, they were depressed even 
to tears, and said, " See how the English commanders 
are mindful of the health of their men, whilst ours 
let us die like flies." Captain Hunter of the Vestal 
never had due credit given him for his devotion to his 
crew whilst suffering from yellow-fever. He made a 
hospital of his cabin, and knew no rest till he had 
reached the cool'harbours of the north. 

Merchant seamen in certain years have also suffered 
dreadfully from this scourge, both in Port-au-Prince 
and in the neighbouring port of Mirago§,ne. Two- 
thirds of the crews have often died, and every now and 
then there is a season in which few ships escape with- 
out loss. 

Yellow-fever rarely appears on shore, as the natives 
do not take it, and the foreign population is small and 
mostly acclimatised. The other diseases from which 
people suffer are ordinary tropical fevers, agues, small- 
pox, and the other ills to which humanity is subject. 
But although Port-au-Prince is the filthiest town I 
have ever seen, it has not yet been visited by cholera. 
In the spring of 1882 small-pox broke out in so viru- 
lent a form that the deaths rose to a hundred a day. 


This dreadful visitation continued several months, and 
it is calculated carried off above 5000 people in the 
city and its neighbourhood. 

If Hayti ever becomes civilised, and if ever roads are 
made, there are near Port-au-Prince summer health- 
resorts which are perfectly European in their climate. 
Even La Coupe, or, as it is ofttcially called, P^tionville, 
about five miles from the capital, at an altitude of 1200 
feet, is from ten to twelve degrees cooler during the 
day, and the nights are delicious ; and if you advance 
to Kenskoff or Furcy, you have the thermometer 
marking during the greatest heats 75" to Jj", whilst the 
mornings and evenings are delightfully fresh, with the 
thermometer at from 57° to 68°, and the nights cold. 
On several occasions I passed some months at P^tion- 
ville, and found the climate most refreshing after the 
burning heats of the sea-coast. 

The regular rainy season commences about Port-au- 
Prince during the month of April, and continues to 
the month of September, with rain again in November 
under the name of " les pluies de la Toussaint." After 
several months of dry weather one breathes again as the 
easterly wind brings the welcome rain, which comes with 
a rush and a force that bend the tallest palm-trees till 
their branches almost sweep the ground. Sometimes, 
whilst dried up in the town, we could see for weeks 
the rain-clouds gathering on the Morne de I'Hopit'al 
within a few miles, and yet not a drop would come 
to refresh our parched-up gardens. 


During the great heats the rain is not only welcome 
as cooling the atmosphere, but as it comes in torrents, 
it rushes down the streets and sweeps clean all those 
that lead to the harbour, and carries before it the 
accumulated filth of the dry season. In very heavy 
rains the cross streets are flooded ; and one year the 
water came down so heavily and suddenly that the 
brooks became rushing rivers. The floods surprised a 
priest whilst bathing, swept him down to the Champs 
de Mars, and threw his mangled body by the side of a 
house I was at that moment visiting. 

That evening, as I was already wet, I rode home 
during the tempest, and never did I see more vivid 
lightning, hear louder thunder, or feel heavier rain. 
As we breasted the hill, the water rushing down the 
path appeared almost knee-deep ; and to add to the 
terror of my animal, a white horse, maddened by fear, 
came dashing down the hill with flowing mane and 
tail, and swept past us. Seen only during a flash of 
lightning, it was a most picturesque sight, and I had 
much dif&culty in preventing my frightened horse 
joining in his wild career. 

The rainy season varies in different parts of the 
island, particularly in the north. I am surprised to 
observe that the priests have found the annual fall of 
rain to be only 117 inches. I had thought it more. 
Perhaps, however, that was during an exceptionally 
dry year. 

The great plain of Cul-de-Sac is considered healthy. 


although occasionally intensely warm. It is, however, 
freely exposed not only to the refreshing sea-breezes, 
but to the cooling land-winds that come down from 
the mountains that surround it. There is but little 
marsh, except near La Eivi^re Blanche, which runs 
near the mountains to the north and is lost in the 

On the sugar-cane plantations, where much irrigation 
takes place, the negro workmen suffer somewhat from 
fever and ague, but probably more from the copious 
libations of new rum, which they assert are rendered 
necessary by the thirsty nature of the climate. 

I had often read of a clap of thunder in a clear sky, 
but never heard anything like the one that shook our 
house near Port-au-Prince. We were sitting, a large 
party, in our broad verandah, about eight in the even- 
ing, with a beautiful starlight night, — the stars, in 
fact, shining so brightly that you could read by their 
light, — when a clap of thunder, which appeared to 
burst just over our roof, took our breath away. It was 
awful in its suddenness and in its strength. N"o one 
spoke for a minute or two, when by a common impulse 
we left the house and looked up into a perfectly clear 
sky. At a distance, however, on the summits of the 
mountains, was a gathering of black clouds, which 
warned my friends to mount their horses, and they 
could scarcely have reached the town when one of the 
heaviest storms I have known commenced, with thunder 
worthy of the clap that had startled us. Though all of 


US were seasoned to the tropics, we had never been so 
impressed before. 

In the wet season the rain, as a rule, comes on at 
regular hours, and lasts a given time. Though occa- 
sionally it will continue through a night and longer, 
rarely does it last above twenty -four hours without 
a gleam of sunshine intervening. 

( 28 ) 



I DO not doubt but the discovery of America by 
Columbus was good in its results to mankind; but 
when we read the history of early Spanish colonisation, 
the predominant feeling is disgust at the barbarities 
and fanaticism recorded in almost every page. We 
generally pass lightly over this view of the subject, 
being dazzled by pictures of heroic deeds, as set forth 
in the works of Prescott and Eobertson — heroic deeds 
of steel-clad warriors massacring crowds of gentle, 
almost unresisting natives, until despair, lending energy 
to their timid natures, forced them occasionally to turn 
on their savage persecutors. 

In no country were the Spaniards more notorious' for 
their cruelty than in the first land in America on which 
Columbus established a settlement. The population 
was then differently estimated, the numbers given vary- 
ing between 800,000 and 2,000,000, the former calcu- 
lation being the more probable. They were indeed a 
primitive people, the men moving about entirely naked, 
and the women wearing but a short petticoat. They are 
said to have been good-looking, which, if true, would 


mark them as a people distinct from any other in the 
New World, as the Indians, who still remain by millions 
in North and South America, are as a race the most 
ill-favoured natives I have seen in any portion of the 
globe. That was my impression when I travelled in 
their country, though I have seen among the young 
women who followed the Indian regiments to Lima a 
few who might almost be considered handsome, but these 
by their appearance were probably of mixed breed. 

Columbus only stayed two months in Santo Domingo, 
but left behind him forty of his companions in an 
entrenched position, who immediately after his de- 
parture began to commit excesses; and hearing that 
a cacique in the interior had a large store of gold, 
penetrated to his town and robbed him of his riches. 
This roused the population against them ; they were 
pursued and killed in detail. 

In the meantime Columbus had revisited Spain, been 
received with honour, and seventeen vessels, laden with 
every kind of store and domestic animal, as well as a 
lai^e force, were placed at his disposal. On his arrival 
his first thoughts were for gold, and he marched in 
search of the mines, which being pointed out to him, 
were soon in full work, the Indians by force being 
compelled to this task. The conduct of these white 
men appears to have been so wantonly cruel, that the 
population rose en masse, and a hundred thousand of the 
aborigines are said to have marched to attack the 
Spaniards, two hundred and twenty of whom put this 


crowd to flight without the loss of a single man. These 
are the heroic deeds we are called upon to admire. It 
has often been declared impossible that such, on one 
side, bloodless encounters could take place ; but I am 
well-assured that two hundred well-armed Englishmen 
could in the present day march through any number 
of the Land Dyaks of Borneo, and defeat them with- 
out loss. 

It is not necessary to trace in detail the history of 
the island; but I may notice that in 1 507 the population 
was estimated at 60,000, which shows that the original 
reckoning must have been greatly exaggerated, as not 
even these early apostles of the religion of charity 
could have thus wiped out the people by millions. 
The story of what are called the early exploits of the 
Spaniards in Santo Domingo has been so often related 
that it is useless to tell it over again, especially as it 
would present but a sequence of sickening events, of 
murders, executions, robbery, and lust, with but few 
traits of generosity and virtue to record. 

These foreign settlers soon saw that the island would 
be useless to them without population, so they early 
began to introduce negroes from Africa, as well as 
families from the neighbouring isles. The local Indians 
were not, however, spared, and the Spanish historians 
themselves are the chroniclers of this record of infamy. 
Now not a descendant of an Indian remains. 

Santo Domingo, deprived of population, with its 
comparatively unimportant mineral wealth, for want of 


hands, no longer available, and agriculture neglected, 
rapidly degenerated, and little was left but the city of 
Santo Domingo and in the interior a population of 
herdsmen. Then the famous buccaneers appeared to 
inflict on the Spaniards some of the misery tliey had 
worked on the Indians. Notwithstanding every effort 
to prevent them, the French adventurers gradually 
spread through the western end of the island, and began 
to form towns and settlements. 

In 1640 Levasseur was sent from France as governor 
of these irregularly acquired possessions, and from that 
time the French may be said to have established them- 
selves firmly in the western part of Santo Domingo — 
which hereafter I may call by its present name, Hayti, 
to simplify the narrative — but their rule was not recog- 
nised by Spain until the year 1697. 

From this date to the breaking out of the French 
Eevolution the colony increased in prosperity, until it 
became, for its extent, probably the richest in the world. 
Negroes were imported by thousands from the coast 
of Africa, and were subjected to as harsh a slavery as 
ever disgraced the worst system of servitude. 

Two events occurred during this period of prosperity 
which were worthy of being noted: first, the fearful 
earthquake which destroyed Port-au-Prince in 1770, 
when for fifteen days the earth trembled under repeated 
shocks, and left the city a heap of ruins.^ The second 

^ It is a well-known fact that the noise of the approach of an earth- 
quake is generally heard ; but in Port-au-Prince there is a curious 


■was the war in whicli France engaged to aid our Worth 
American colonists to acquire their independence. To 
increase their forces the French commanders permitted 
the free blacks and mulattoes to enlist, and they did 
good service ; but when they returned to their country, 
they spread widely a spirit of disaffection, which no 
ordinances could destroy. 

When England in 1785 was forced to acknowledge 
the independence of the United States, how despotic 
France and Spain rejoiced over the downfall of the 
only country where liberty was known ! The results 
were, for France, the Eevolution, which, with all its 
crimes, did unspeakable good, and deprived her of the 
finest colony that any country ever possessed. To 
Spain it brought the loss of world-wide possessions, and 
a fall in power and prestige which until lately she has 
shown but few signs of recovering. 

On the eve of the great Eevolution, France possessed, 
as I have said, the finest colony in the world. Her 
historians are never weary of enumerating the amount 
of its products, the great trade, the warehouses full 
of sugar, cotton, coffee, indigo, and cocoa; its plains 
covered with splendid estates, it hillsides dotted with 
noble houses ; a white population, rich, refined, enjoy- 

phenomenon which I have never known explained. A subterranean 
noise is frequently heard approaching from the plains, and appears to 
pass under the town without any movement of the earth being per- 
ceptible. The Haytians call it "le gouffre," or "le bruit du gouffre,'' 
and many fancy the whole of that portion of the island to be under- 
mined, «nd predict a fearful fate for the capital. 


ing life as only a luxurious colonial society can en- 
joy it; the only dark spot, then scarcely noticed, the 
ignorant, discontented mass of black slavery, and the 
more enlightened disaffection of the free mulattoes and 

It has often been a subject of inquiry how it was 
that the Spaniards, who were the cruellest of the cruel 
towards the Indians, should have established negro 
slavery in a form which robbed it of half its terrors, 
whilst the French, usually less severe than their 
southern neighbours, should have founded a system 
of servitude unsurpassed for severity, cruelty, nay, 
ferocity. To this day the barbarous conduct of the 
Marquis of Caradeux is cited as a justification for the 
savage retaliation of the insurgent negroes. I think 
that the explanation of the different conduct of the 
Spanish and French slave-owner may be, that the 
former is indolent and satisfied with less, whilst the 
latter, in his fierce struggle to be rich, cared not how 
he became so, and worked his negroes beyond human 
endurance, and then, to keep down the inevitable effects 
of discontent, sought to terrorise his slaves by barbarous 

The true history of Hayti commences with the 
French Eevolution, when, amid the flood of impracti- 
cable and practicable schemes, a few statesmen turned 
their generous thoughts towards the down-trodden 
African, and firing assembled France with their enthu- 
siasm, passed laws and issued decrees granting freedom 



to the black ; but before these had any practical effect, 
Hayti had to pass through scenes which have left 
blood-stains that nothing can wash away. 

When reading the different accounts which have 
been written of the state of Hayti when France was 
upsetting the accumulated wrongs of ages, I have often 
desired to disbelieve them, and place to exaggerated 
feelings of sympathy the descriptions of the prejudices 
of the planters and the atrocities committed under 
their influence. But I have lived long in the West 
Indies, and know that there are still many whites born 
in our colonies, even among the clergy, who not only 
look upon the negro as of an inferior species — which he 
may be — but as fit only for servitude, and quite un- 
worthy of freedom, and on an alliance with a coloured 
person as a disgrace which affects a whole family. 
They speak of a mulatto as they would of one affected 
with leprosy. If in these days such sentiments exist, 
we can readily believe that they existed even in a 
greater degree before, awakened to a feeling of justice, 
civilised nations formally abolished slavery, and let the 
black and the coloured man have an equal chance in 
the struggle of life. 

For some years before the meeting of the States- 
General in France, philanthropists who had inquired 
into the condition of the slave had had their compas- 
sion aroused, and, to give direction to their efforts to 
ameliorate it, had founded in Paris a society called 
" The Friends of the Blacks." 


The summoning of the States- General in Prance 
created much enthusiasm throughout Hayti ; the plan- 
ters now thought that justice would be done, and that 
a share would be accorded them in the government of 
the colony; the lower class of whites had a vague 
idea that their position must be improved, and hailed 
the movement as the promise of better times — though 
in truth these two Classes had little of whicli to com- 
plain ; the former were rolling in wealth, and the 
latter were never in want of highly-paid employ- 
ment. Another class felt even greater interest — that 
of the free black and coloured men ; they thought that 
no change could occur which would not better their 
condition, which was one of simple toleration ; they 
might work and get rich, have their children educated 
in France, but they had no political rights, and the 
meanest white considered himself, and was treated, as 
their superior. The slaves, although discontented, were 
only formidable from their numbers. 

Exaggerated expectations were naturally followed by 
disappointment. The planters, finding that the French 
Government had no intention of employing them to 
administer the colony, began to think of independence ; 
whilst the lower whites, passionately attached to the 
dream of ec[uality, thought that that should com- 
mence by an apportionment among them of the 
estates of the rich. A third party consisted of the 
Government employes, whose chiefs were Eoyalists 
under the leadership of Penier, the Governor-General, 


and Mauduit, colonel of the regiment of Port-au- 

The Colouial party, or rather that of the planters, 
in order to increase their power, which had hitherto 
been disseminated in local assemblies, determined to 
have the law carried out which authorised a General 
Assembly. This was elected, and held its first meet^ 
ings in St. Marc in March 1790. The leaders soon 
commenced to quarrel with the Government autho- 
rities, and dissensions rose to such a height that both 
parties began to arm ; and on the Assembly decreeing 
the substitution of another Governor for Penier, he 
was roused to resistance, and in a brief struggle he 
forced the General Assembly to dissolve, a portion of 
the members seeking refuge on board of a ship of war, 
whose crew they had induced to mutiny and sail with 
them to France. 

The white population thus set the example of inter- 
nal strife, and in their struggle for mastery called in 
the aid of the freedmen, and then after victory insulted 
them. These, however, began gradually to understand 
the advantages they possessed in being able to support 
the climate, and the persecutions and cruelties of the 
French made them feel that those who would be free 
themselves must strike the blow. 

Among the educated and intelligent mulattoes who 
had gone to France to urge on the National Assembly 
the rights of their colour was Ogd. He naturally 
thought that the time had arrived for justice to be 


done when the President of the " Constituant" had 
declared that " aucune partie de la nation ne r^cla- 
mera vainement ses droits aupres de I'assemblee des 
representants du peuple fran^ais." He visited the 
Club Massiac, where the planters held supreme sway, 
and endeavoured to enlist their sympathy, but he 
was coldly received. He then determined to return to 
Hayti to support the rights of his caste, which, though 
ambiguously, had been recognised by the Legislature ; 
but unexpected obstacles were thrown in his way by 
the Colonial party, and an order to arrest him was 
issued should he venture to embark for his native 
land. By passing through England and the United 
States he eluded these precautions, and landed privately 
at Cap Haitien. When the news of his arrival on 
his property at Dondon reached the authorities, they 
endeavoured to capture him ; then he, with some 
hundreds of his colour, rose in arms ; but after a few 
skirmishes they dispersed, and Og^ was forced to seek 
refuge in the Spanish settlement of Santo Domingo. 
There he was arrested, and, on the demand of the 
Governor of the French colony, handed over to his 
enemies. He was tried as a rebel and broken on the 
wheel, together with three companions; others were 
hung, the rest sent to the galleys. 

Oge's armed resistance had encouraged the men 
of colour in the south to demand their rights; but 
they were easily dispersed, and their chief, Eigaud, 
taken prisoner. These isolated and irresolute outbreaks 


rendered the division between the coloured and the 
white population more marked than ever; the latter 
despised the former for their wretched resistance, 
while the coloured men were indignant at the cruel 
and unsparing executions which marked the close of 
Oge's career. 

Monsieur Blanchelande was then Governor, a weak 
man at the head of the Eoyalist partj^, who had not 
the courage to follow the energetic counsels of Colonel 
Mauduit. By his vacillation all discipline was lost both 
in the army and in the fleet, and the revolutionary 
party rose in arms in Port-au-Prince, murdered Colonel 
Mauduit, and drove tlie pusillanimous Grovernor to seek 
refuge in the plain of Cul-de-Sac. Thus the whites 
were everywhere divided, but were still strong enough 
to disperse any assembly of the freedmen. 

The news of the troubles in Hayti produced a great 
effect in Paris, and the Constituent Assembly deter- 
mined to send three commissioners to restore tran- 
quillity ; but they prefaced this measure by decreeing 
(May 15, 1791) that every man of colour born of free 
parents should enjoy equal political rights with the 
whites. On the planters declaring that this would 
bring about civil war and the loss of the colony, the 
famous phrase was uttered, "Perish the colonies rather 
than a principle," which phrase has not been forgotten 
by those amongst us who would sacrifice India to the 
perverse idea of abandoning our high political status 
in the world. 


When the substance of this decree reached Hayti, it 
roused to fury the passions of the whites ; all sections 
united in declaring that they would oppose its execu- 
tion even by force of arms, and a strong party was 
formed either to declare the independence of the 
colony, or, if that were not possible, to invite England 
to take possession. The coloured men, on the other 
hand, determined to assert their rights, and held secret 
meetings to bring about an accord among all the 
members of their party; and when they heard that 
Governor Blanchelande had declared he would not 
execute the decree, they summoned their followers to 
meet at Mirebalais in the western department. 

The whites in the meantime determined that the 
second Colonial Assembly should be elected before the 
official text of the dreaded decree of the 1 5th May should 
arrive ; and so rapidly did they act, that on the ist 
August 1 79 1 the Assembly met at Leogane, and was 
opened under the presidency of the Marquis de Cadusch, 
a Eoyalist. They called Governor Blanchelande to the 
bar of the House, and made him swear that he would 
not carry into effect the law giving equal rights to 
the freedmen. As Cap Haitien had become in reality 
the capital of the colony, both the Governor and the 
Assembly soon removed there. 

The Eoyalist party, headed by the Governor, found 
their influence gradually declining, and, to strengthen 
their hands against both the Colonial Assembly with 
its traitorous projects and the violence of the lower 


part of the white population, are accused of having first 
thought of enlisting the blacks to further their schemes 
and to strengthen their party. It is said that they 
proposed to Toussaint, a slave on the Breda estates, to 
raise the negroes in revolt in the name of the King. 
This account I believe to be a pure invention of the 
coloured historians, and the conduct of the blacks 
clearly proved that they were not moved by French 
officers. Whoever was the instigator, it is certain that 
the negroes in the northern province rose in insurrec- 
tion, put to death every white that fell into their 
liands, began to burn the factories, and then rushed en 
masse to pillage the town of Cap Haitien. Here, how- 
ever, their numbers availed them little against the 
arms and discipline of the French troops, and they 
were driven back with great slaughter, and many then 
retired to the mountains. It would naturally be sus- 
pected that the coloured people were the instigators 
of this movement, were it not certain that they were 
as much opposed to the freedom of the blacks as the 
most impassioned white planter. 

The insurgent slaves called themselves " Les Gens du 
Eoi," declaring that he was their friend and was per- 
secuted for their sake ; they hoisted the white flag, and 
placed an ignorant negro, Jean Francois, at their head. 
The second in command was a Papaloi or priest of the 
Vaudoux, named Biassou. He encouraged his followers 
to carry on the rites of their African religion, and when 
under its wildest influence, he dashed his bands to the 


attack of their civilised enemies, to meet their death 
in Hayti, but to rise again free in their beloved 
Africa. The ferocity of the negro nature had now full 
swing, and the whites who fell into their hands felt 
its effects. Prisoners were placed between planks and 
sawn in two, or were skinned alive and slowly roasted, 
the girls violated and then murdered. Unhappily some 
of these blacks had seen their companions thus tor- 
tured, though probably in very exceptional cases. De- 
scriptions of these horrors fill pages in every Haytian 
history, but it is needless to dwell on them. On either 
side there was but little mercy. 

The Governor at length collected 3000 white troops, 
who, after various skirmishes, dispersed these bands 
with much slaughter ; but as this success was not fol- 
lowed up, Jean Francois and Biassou soon rallied their 

In the meantime the coloured men at Mirebalais, 
under the leadership of Pinchinat, began to arouse their 
brethren ; and having freed nine hundred slaves, com- 
menced forming the nucleus of an army, that, under 
the leadership of a very intelligent mulatto named 
Bauvais, gained some successes over the undisciplined 
forces in Port-au-Prince, commanded by an Italian 
adventurer, Praloto. The Pioyalists, who had been 
driven from the city by the mob, had assembled at " La 
Croix des Bouquets " in the plains, and to strengthen 
their party entered into an alliance with the freedmen. 
This alarmed the inhabitants of Port-au-Prince, and 


they also recognised the existence of Pinchinat and 
his party by entering into a regular treaty with them. 
Tlie Haytians, as I may call the coloured races, began 
now to understand that their position must depend on 
their own courage and conduct. 

When everything had been settled between the chiefs 
of the two parties, the Haytians returned to Port-au- 
Prince, and were received with every demonstration of 
joy; they then agreed to a plan which showed how 
little they cared for the liberty of others, so that they 
themselves obtained their rights. Among those who 
had fought valiantly at their side were the freed slaves 
previously referred to. For fear these men should 
excite ideas of liberty among those blacks who were 
still working on the estates, the coloured officers con- 
sented that they should be deported from the country. 
In the end, they were placed as prisoners on board a 
pontoon in Mole St. Nicolas, and at night were for 
the most part butchered by unknown assassins. And 
Bauvais and Pinchinat, the leaders and the most intel- 
ligent of the freedmen, were those that agreed to this 
deportation of their brethren in arms who had the 
misfortune to be lately slaves ! I doubt if the blacks 
ever forgot this incident. 

The coloured men gained little by this breach of. 
faith, as shortly after news arrived that the French 
Assembly had reversed the decree of May 15, which 
gave equal rights to the freedmen ; and then dissensions 
broke out, and the coloured men were again driven from 


Port-au-Prince with heavy loss. This was the signal for 
disorders throughout the whole country, and the whites 
and the freedmen were skirmishing in every district. 
Praloto and the rabble reigned supreme in Port-au- 
Prince, and soon made the rich merchants and shop- 
keepers feel the effects of their internal divisions, They 
set fire to the town, and during the confusion plundered 
the stores, and exercised their private vengeance on 
their enemies. 

The whole country was in the greatest disorder when 
three commissioners sent by the Prench Government 
arrived in Hayti. The Colonial Assembly was still 
sitting at Cap Haitien and the insurgent negroes were 
encamped at no great distance. The three commis- 
sioners were Mirbeck, St. Leger, and Eoume ; they im- 
mediately endeavoured to enter into negotiations with 
the revolted slaves, which had little result, on account 
of the obstinacy of the planters. Finding that their 
influence was as nought, the former two returned 
to Prance, whilst Eoume went ultimately to Santo 

The state of the colony may be imagined when it is 
remembered that the whites were divided into three 
distinct sections. Tlie coloured men, jealous of each 
other, did not combine, but were ready to come to blows 
on the least pretext ; while the blacks, under Jean 
Pranqois, were massacring every white that fell into 
their hands, and selling to the Spaniard every negro or 
coloured man accused of siding with the Prench. The 


planters wanted independence or subjection to England j 
the poorer whites anything which would give them the 
property of others ; the coloured were still faithful to 
France, whilst the blacks cared only to be free from 
work ; yet among them was Toussaint, who already had 
fermenting in his brain the project of a free black 

It would interest few to enter into the details of 
this history of horrors, where it is difficult to feel sym- 
pathy for any party. They were alilie steeped in blood, 
and ready to commit any crime to further their ends. 
Murder, torture, violation, pillage, bad faith, and treach- 
ery meet you on all sides ; and although a few names 
arise occasionally in whom you feel a momentary inte- 
rest, they are sure soon to disgust you by their utter 
incapacity or besotted personal ambition. 

The ISTational Assembly in Paris, finding that their 
first commissioners had accomplished nothing, sent three 
others, two of whom, Sonthonax and Polverel, are well 
known in Haytian history. They had full powers, and 
even secret instructions, to do all they could to give 
freedom to the slaves. 

These two commissioners were of the very worst 
kind of revolutionists, talked of little- but guillotining 
the aristocrats, and were in every way unsuited to 
their task ; they dissolved the Colonial Assembly, and 
substituted for it a commission, consisting of six whites 
of the stamp suited to them and six freedmen. Tliey 
decided to crush the respectable classes, whom they 


called Eoyalists, because they would not join in re- 
volutionary excesses, and the massacre commenced at 
the Cape. 

Polverel appears to have had some idea of the re- 
sponsibility of his position, though both cruel and faith- 
less; Sonthonax, however, was but a blatant babbler, 
with some talent, but overwhelmed by vanity. He 
caused more bloodshed than any other man, first setting 
the lower white against the rich, then the mulatto 
against the white, and then the black against both. 
Well might the French orator declare on Sonthonax's 
return to France that " il puait de sang." The third 
commissioner, Aillaud, thinking, very justly, that his 
.companions were a couple of scoundrels whom he 
could not control, embarked secretly and left for home. 
Whilst these commissioners were employed in destroy- 
ing the fairest colony in the world, France, in a moment 
of excited fury, declared war against the rest of Europe, 
and a new era opened for Hayti. 

Many of the more influential and respectable inha- 
bitants of all colours, utterly disgusted by the conduct 
of the different parties, thought that the war between 
England and France would give them some chance of 
rest from the excesses of the insurgent blacks and from 
the factious freedmen, supported by that foii furieux, 
Sonthonax, sent to Jamaica to invite the Governor to 
interfere and take possession of the colony. 

England did interfere, but in her usual way, with 
small expeditions, and thus frittered away her strength ; 


but the resistance made was in general so contemptible, 
that with little effort we succeeded in taking J^r^mie 
in the southern province, and then St. Marc, and subse- 
quently Port-au-Prince. Had we sent a large army, it 
is equally possible that we should not have succeeded, 
as the intention was to reimpose slavery. As the 
garrison of Jamaica could only furnish detachments, 
the British authorities began to enlist all who wished 
to serve, irrespective of colour, and being supported by 
those who were weary of anarchy and revolutionary 
fury, were soon able to present a very respectable force 
in the field. The Spaniards, aided by the bands of re- 
volted negroes, overran most of the northern province ; 
in this they were greatly aided by Toussaint L'Ouver- 
ture, who now began to come to the front. Sonthonax, 
■whose idea of energy was simply to massacre and 
destroy, ordered that every place his partisans were 
forced to evacuate should be burned. At the same 
time he thought that a little terror might be of service, 
so he erected a guillotine in Port-au-Prince ; and having 
at hand a Frenchman accused of being a Eoyalist, he 
thought he would try the experiment on him. An 
immense crowd of Haytians assembled to witness the 
execution ; but when they saw the bright blade descend 
and the head roll at their feet, they were horror-stricken, 
and rushing on the guillotine, tore it to pieces, and no 
other has ever again been erected in Hayti. 

Curious people ! they who never hesitated to destroy 
the whites, guilty or innocent, or massacre, simply 


because they were white, women and children, down 
to the very babe at the breast, who invented every 
species of torture to render death more hideous, were 
horrified because a man's head was chopped off instead 
of his being destroyed in a fashion to which they were 
accustomed, and this at a time when white, coloured, 
and black were vying with each other in acts of blood- 
thirsty cruelty ! 

The whole country was in terrible confusion ; the 
French had not one man who had the talent or influ- 
ence to dominate their divided factions ; the coloured 
were represented by such respectabilities as Pinchinat, 
Bauvais, and Eigaud, but without one of incontestable 
superiority; the blacks were as yet led by such men 
as Jean Frangois and Biassou, who must even make 
respectable negroes blush to acknowledge that they 
were of the same race ; yet, as I have said, there was 
one man coming to the front who was to dominate all. 

Amid the many heroes whose actions the Haytians 
love to commemorate, Toussaint L'Ouverture does not 
hold a high rank ; and yet the conduct of this black 
was so remarkable as almost to confound those who 
declare the negro an inferior creature incapable of 
rising to genius. History, wearied with dwelling on 
the petty passions of the other founders of Haytiau 
independence, may well turn to the one grand figure 
of this cruel war. Toussaint was born on the Breda 
estate in the northern department, and was a slave 
from birth ; it has. been doubted whether he was of 


pure negro race. His grandfather was an African 
prince, but if we may judge from the portraits, he was 
not of the pure negro tvpe. Whether pure negro or 
not, there is no doubt of the intelligence and energy 
of the man. Though but a puny child, by constant 
exercise and a vigorous will he became as wiry and 
active as any of his companions, and, moreover, gave 
up much of his leisure time to study. He learned to 
read French, and, it is said, in order to understand the 
Prayer-Book, a little Latin ; but he never quite mastered 
the art of writing. He was evidently trusted and 
kindly treated by his master's agent, who gave him 
charge of the sugar-mills. There is an accusation con- 
stantly brought against Toussaint, that of being a 
religious hypocrite, but his early life shows that it is 
unfounded. Whilst stUl a slave, his principles would 
not allow him to foUow the custom of his companions 
and live in concubinage; he determined to marrv, 
though the woman he chose had already an illegitimate 
son named Placide, whom he adopted. It is pleasing to 
read of the happy domestic life of Toussaint, and it 
is another proof of that affectionate disposition which 
made those who served him devoted to him. 

When the insurrection broke out in the northern 
province, Toussaint remained faithful to his master, and 
prevented any destruction on the estate: but finding 
ultimately that he could not stem the tide, he sent his 
master's family for safety into Cap Haitien, and joined 
the insurgents. He was at first appointed surf^eon to 


the army, as among his other accomplishments was a 
knowledge of simples, which had given him great in- 
fluence on the estate, and was now to do so in the 
insurgent forces. He liked this employment, as it 
kept him free from the savage excesses of his com- 
panions, who were acting with more than ordinary 

The three leaders of the insurgents were then Jean 
Francois, a negro, about whom opinions differ. St. 
Eemy says he was intellectual, though the general idea 
is the more probable one, that he was an energetic 
savage. Biassou was sensual and violent, as cruel as 
man could be, and an avowed leader of the Vaudoux 
sect, and apparently a Papaloi; but the vilest of the 
three was Jeannot. He loved to torture his white 
prisoners, and drank their blood mixed with rum ; but 
he was as cowardly as he was cruel, and the scene at 
his execution, when he clung to the priest in frantic 
terror, must have afforded satisfaction to the friends of 
those whom he had pitilessly murdered. Jeannot was 
also a great proficient in Vaudoux practices, and thus 
gained much influence with the ignorant slaves ; it was 
this influence, not his cruelties, which roused the anger 
of Jean Fran9ois, who seized and summarily shot him. 

It is curious to read of the projects of these negro 
leaders. They had no idea of demanding liberty for 
the slaves ; they only wanted liberty for themselves. 
In some abortive negotiations with the French, Jean 
Frangois demanded that 300 of the leaders should be 


declared free, whilsfc Toussaint would only have bar- 
gained for fifty. The mulattoes, however, were most 
anxious to preserve their own slaves, and, as I have 
related, gave up to death those blacks who had aided 
them in supporting their position ; and a French writer 
records that up to Le Clerc's expedition, the mulattoes 
had fought against the blacks with all the zeal that the 
interests of property could inspire. 

The blind infatuation of the planters prevented 
their accepting Jean Frangois' proposition; they even 
rejected it with insult, and savagely persecuted the 
negroes who were living in Cap Haitien. Biassou then 
ordered all his white prisoners to be put to death ; but 
Toussaint, by his eloquent remonstrances, saved them. 
Other negotiations having failed, Biassou attacked the 
French lines, and carried them as far as the ramparts 
of the town. The planters had brave words, but not 
brave deeds, with which to meet their revolted bonds- 
men. All the black prisoners taken by the insurgents 
were sent over the frontiers and sold as slaves to the 
Spaniards. Toussaint remonstrated against this vile 
traffic, but never shared in it. The new Governor, 
Laveaux, at this time nearly stifled the insurrection, 
dispersing all the insurgent forces ; but, as usual, not 
following up his successes, allowed the negroes again 
to concentrate. No strength of position as yet enabled 
the blacks successfully to resist the white troops. 

When the negro chiefs heard of the death of 
Louis XVI., they thought they had lost a friend, and 


openly joined the Spaniards in their war on the French 

At this time Sonthonax and Polv^rel acted as if 
they intended to betray their own country, by remov- 
ing the chief white officers from command and in- 
trusting these important posts to mulattoes. It was 
not, however, treachery, but jealousy, as such a man 
as General Galbaud could not be made a docile instru- 
ment in their hands. Then finding that power was 
slipping from them, they proclaimed (1793) the liberty 
of all those slaves who would fight for the Eepublic. 

In the meantime Toussaint was steadily gaining 
influence among his troops, and gradually freeing him- 
self from the control of Biassou, whose proceedings 
had always shocked him ; and some successful expedi- 
tions, as the taking of Dondon, added to his prestige. 
Whilst fighting was going on throughout the northern 
provinces, Sonthonax and Polverel were solemnising 
pompous fites to celebrate the anniversary of the 
taking of the Bastile. It is singular what a passion 
they had for these childish amusements. 

Eigaud, a mulatto, in future days the rival of 
Toussaint, now appears prominently upon the scene, 
being appointed by the commissioners as chief of the 
southern department. 

Toussaint continued his successes, and finding that 
nothing could be done with the estates without the 
whites, appeared anxious to induce them to return 
to superintend their cultivation, and he succeeded in 


persuading many hundreds to reside in their devastated 

Alarmed by the continued advance of Toussaint, 
Sonthonax proclaimed in August 29, 1793, the liberty 
of all, which, under the circumstances, may be con- 
sidered the only wise act of his administration. 

The people of the north-west, however, were weary 
of the tyranny of the commissioners, and being pro- 
bably privately informed of Toussaint's intentions, sur- 
rendered Gonaives to him, and the rest of the neigh- 
bouring districts followed. A new enemy, however, now 
appeared in the shape of the English, who took posses- 
sion of St. Marc with seventy-five men, — so like our 
system! In June 1794 Port-au-Prince surrendered to 
the English after a faint resistance, the commissioners 
retiring to Jacmel, from whence they embarked for 
Prance, to answer for their conduct. At that time 
Port-au-Prince was in a fair state for defence ; but 
Captain Daniel of the 41st took the famous fort 
of Bizoton by storm with sixty men, and then the 
English advanced on the town. The effect of having 
replaced the French officers by untrained mulattoes 
was here apparent: though everything had been pre- 
pared to blow up the forts, nothing was done ; the garri- 
son fled, leaving to our forces 131 cannon, twenty- two 
laden vessels, with 7000 tons more in ballast, and all 
their stores and ammunition. 

At this time Jean Francois, became suspicious of 
Toussaint and arrested him, but he was delivered by 


3iassou. Toussaint had for some time been meditating 


a bold stroke. The procl3,mation by Sonthonax of the 
freedom of the blacks probably worked on him, and he 
determined to abandon the party of the King of Spain, 
which was that of slavery, and join the French Ee- 
public. He did so, proclaiming at the same time the 
freedom of the slaves. His soldiers sullied the change 
by massacring two hundred white planters, who, con- 
fiding in the word of Toussaint, had returned to their 

The new general of the republic now acted with 
energy against Jean Fran9ois, drove him from the 
plains, and forced him to take refuge with his followers 
in the Black Mountains. Success followed success, 
until Toussaint found himself opposite St. Marc; but 
his attack on that town was easily repulsed by its garri- 
son in English pay. His activity was incessant, and he 
kept up constant skirmishes with all his enemies ; he 
appeared ever unwearied, whatever might be the fatigue 
of his companions. 

Toussaint had naturally observed that, however his 
men might succeed against the undisciplined hordes of 
Jean Franqois, they could do nothing against a discip- 
lined force. He therefore, in 1795, formed four regi- 
ments of 2000 men each, whom he had daily drilled by 
French soldiers, his former prisoners ; and, I may notice 
here, with such success, that English officers were sub- 
sequently surprised at their proficiency. 

Eigaud had, in the meantime, with his usual boasting, 


marched on Port-au-Prince, declaring he would expel 
the English, but was repulsed. Toussaint assembled all 
his army for another attack on St. Marc, and for three 
days, from the 2Sth to 27th July 1795, tried by repeated 
assaults to capture the town; but English discipline 
prevailed, and the small garrison foiled every attempt. 

It is noticed by St. Eemy that Toussaint, when once 
he gave his word, never broke it, which was a new 
experience among these unprincipled leaders ; and it is 
added, that he never had any prejudice of colour. 

An important event for the French in 1795 was the 
peace made between France and Spain, by which Santo 
Domingo was ceded to the former. 

The year 1796 was ushered in by various English 
expeditions and skirmishes, and their failure to take 
Leog§,ne. Some of the Haytian accounts are amusing. 
Potion defended the fort of ^a-ira against the whole 
English fleet until the fortifications were demolished. 
Fifteen thousand English bullets were showered into 
the place, and yet only seven Haytians were killed. It 
looks as if the garrison had quietly retired and left us 
to batter away at the earthworks. 

One is often surprised, in reading Haytian accounts 
of the war, at the defeats of the English, which make 
one wonder what could have become of the proverbial 
courage and steadiness of our men ; but a little closer 
inquiry shows that in most of these instances there 
were few or no English present, only black and coloured 
men in our pay, or planters who had taken our side in 


the war, none of whom were more than half-hearted in 
our cause. 

The French were also weakened by internal dissen- 
sions. General Vilatte, a mulatto, incited a revolt in 
the town of Cap Haitien, arrested the French governor, 
Laveaux, and threw him into prison. The latter called 
on Toussaint to aid him, and the black general had the 
supreme satisfaction of marching into the town and 
freeing the white governor. With what curious sensa- 
tions must Toussaint have performed this act of autho- 
rity in a place that had only known him as a slave ! 
Laveaux received him with enthusiasm, and promoted 
him from the grade of general of brigade, to which the 
French Government had named him, to be lieuten- 
ant-general of the Government, April r, 1796. This 
successful movement confirmed the ascendancy of the 
blacks in the north, and Vilatte had shortly to sail for 
France, from whence he returned with the expedition 
sent to enslave his countrymen. 

Sonthonax and a new commission now arrived at 
Cap Haitien, to find Eigaud almost independent in 
the south, and Toussaint master in the north. Both 
■ Laveaux and Sonthonax are accused of endeavouring to 
set the blacks against the mulattoes. Laveaux having 
returned to France as deputy for the colony, Sonthonax 
remained at the head of affairs, and one of his first acts 
was to name Toussaint general of division. 

Toussaint was in the meantime organising his army 
and working hard at its drill: he then started to the 


attack of Mirebalais, a post occupied by a French 
planter in our service, the Count de Bruges, who 
appears to have retired, with numerous forces, without 
much resistance, as he probably could scarcely trust his 
raw levies. Sonthonax was so pleased with this im- 
portant success that he named Toussaint commander- 
in-chief of the army in Santo Domingo, which step 
displeased Eigaud, who was thus placed under the 
orders of a black general. 

Toussaint appears to have felt a justifiable distrust of 
Sonthonax ; he saw that he desired to set black against 
coloured, that he was even talking of the independence 
of the island, perhaps only to test Toussaint's fidelity ; 
but he had no difficulty in assuring himself that wher- 
ever Sonthonax was, mischief was sure to be brewing. 
He therefore had him elected deputy, and sent him to 
follow Laveaux. Sonthonax did not like this step, and 
made some show of opposition, but Toussaint informed 
him that if he did not embark immediately he would 
fall on Cap Haitien with 20,000 men. This irresistible 
argument made Sonthonax give way. As he went down 
to the boat that was to take him on board, the streets 
were lined by crowds of all colours, but not one said, 
" God bless him," as he had betrayed every party in turn ; 
and his one wise act of proclaiming the liberty of the 
slaves was simply a political expedient, wrung from 
him by the circumstances of the hour. He was a boast- 
ing, bad man, whose history is written in the blood of 
thousands of every colour. 


The Directory, alarmed at the growing influence of 
Toussaint, sent out General H^douville as pacificator 
of the island, and, to produce harmony, gave him 
authority to deport Eigaud. On his arrival at Cap 
Haitien he summoned the rivals to confer with him, 
and Eigaud and Toussaint, meeting at Gonaives, went 
together to the capital. Hddouville, jealous of the power 
of the latter, gave all his attention to the former, whilst 
the newly arrived French ofBcers laughed at the negro 
and his surroundings. Toussaint, suspecting a plot to 
arrest him and send him off to France, and probably 
very jealous of the superior treatment of his rival, 
withdrew from the city and returned to his army. 

The English had now become convinced that it was 
useless to attempt to conquer the island; their losses 
-from sickness were enormous, and the influence of the 
planters was of no avail. Their black and coloured 
mercenaries were faithless and ready to betray them, 
as at St. Marc, where the English governor had to shoot 
a number of traitorous mulattoes who would have 
betrayed the town into the hands of the blacks. They 
therefore determined to treat with Toussaint, and after 
some brief negotiations evacuated St. Marc, Port-au- 
Prince, and L'Arcahaye. He thus gained at one stroke 
what no amount of force could have procured for him. 

Toussaint, with a greatness of mind which was re- 
markable, agreed to allow those French colonists who 
had sided with us to remain, and promised to respect 
their properties ; and as it was known that this mag- 


nanimous black ever kept his word, no important 
exodus followed our retreat. Admiral Maitland had 
arranged for the surrender of the Mole with General 
Hedouville, but on finding his hostility to the French 
planters, whom he insisted on Toussaint expelling the 
country, our naval chief made a new settlement with 
the black general and handed the Mole over to him. 
]\Iaitland invited Toussaint to visit him, and reviewed 
before him the English army collected from the rest 
of the country. He was exceedingly pleased by the 
treatment he received from our people, and ever after 
showed a kindly feeling towards them. 

One can scarcely understand why the English gave 
up the Mole, which a small garrison could have de- 
fended, and the importance of the position in naval 
warfare is indisputable. If we wanted to gain Tous- 
saint and induce him to declare the island independent, 
we should have held it until that desirable event had 

Toussaint treated the old colonists with distinction, 
and left many of them in the commands they had 
held under the English. HMouville protested against 
this good treatment of his own countrymen, and 
annoyed Toussaint so much, that he began to consider 

' Our unsuccessful attempt to conquer Hayti does not merit to be 
recorded in detail, but it is humiliating to read of the stupidity of 
our chiefs at Port-au-Prince, who made our soldiers work at fortifica- 
tions during the day and do duty at night. No wonder that we find 
a regiment 6oo strong losing 400 in two mouths, and the Sad landing 
950 men, to be reduced in six weeks to 350. 


whether it would not be prudent to send Hddouville to 
follow Sonthonax. 

H^douville was not the only one who objected to 
the good treatment of the planters ; his opinion was 
shared by the black general Moise, then commanding 
in the northern department. To show his displeasure 
at Toussaint's humanity, he caused some white colo- 
nists to be murdered in the plains near Cap Haitien. 
H^douville, frightened by the practical result of his 
teaching, summoned Toussaint to his aid ; but doubtful 
of his general, he escaped on board a vessel in harbour. 
In order to do all the mischief he could before leaving, 
he wrote to Eigaud, saying he was no longer to obey 
Toussaint, but consider himself the governor of the 
southern department, adding that Toussaint was sold 
to the English and the dmigrds. 

It was H^douville who thus laid the foundation of 
that civil war which degenerated into a struggle of 
caste. The agents sent by France proved each worse 
than the other. Eigaud, with the true spirit of a 
mulatto, also wrote to Toussaint to drive out the white 
planters, and when his teaching had incited his soldiers 
to murder his white countrymen, all Eigaud could say 
was, " Mon Dieu, qu'est que le peuple en fureur ? " 

On the departure of Hddouville, Toussaint invited 
Eoume to leave Santo Domingo and come and reside 
at Port-au-Prince, where they met in January 1799. 
Eoume appears to have had a profound admiration for 
Toussaint. We find him writing to General Kerverseau 


as early as February 1795, and describing the negro 
chief as a philosopher, a legislator, a general, and a 
good citizen. 

Eoume had a difficult part to play. He was most 
anxious to bring about concord among the different 
generals, and therefore invited Eigaud and Bauvais to 
meet Toussaint on the fete of the 4th of February to 
commemorate the memorable day when the National 
Convention proclaimed full liberty to the slaves. A 
little outward concord was obtained, but soon after, 
Toussaint, suspecting a plot, arrested some mulattoes. 
A slight disturbance among the negroes taking place 
at Corail, thirty were captured and died in prison, 
from " the effect of the gas created by white-washing 
the building." This remarkable excuse did not satisfy 
Toussaint, who believed the men to have been assassi- 
nated by Eigaud's of&cers. 

Toussaint and Eoume had in the meantime left for 
Cap Haitien, where they appear to have negotiated a com- 
mercial treaty with the Americans, and some arrange- 
ment was also, it is said, made with Admiral Maitland. 

It was during this year that Captain Eainsford 
visited Cap Haitien. As we were at war with France, 
our officer passed as an American, and soon after 
landing was met by Toussaint in the street, who came 
up to him to ask the news. He next saw him at a 
restaurant where all classes dined, and he sat down at 
a long table with a drummer-boy nest him, and the 
general not far off. The latter used to say that except 


ou service he did not see the necessity of making dis- 
tinctions. In the evening Captain Eainsford played 
billiards with Toussaint at the public tables. 

Eainsford appears to have been as much struck 
with Toussaint as Eoume. He says he was constrained 
to admire him as a man, a governor, and a general. 
He describes him as perfectly black, then about fifty- 
five years of age, of a venerable appearance, and pos- 
sessed of uncommon discernment and great suavity 
of manners. He enters fully into a description of his 
dress. The general wore as a uniform a kind of blue 
spencer, with a large red cape falling over his shoulders, 
and red cufis, with eight rows of lace on the arms, and 
a pair of huge gold epaulettes, a scarlet waistcoat, 
pantaloons and half-boots, a round hat with red feather 
and national cocade, and an extremely large sword 
was suspended from his side. Eainsford adds : " He 
receives a voluntary respect from every description of 
his countrymen, which is more than returned by the 
affability of his behaviour and the goodness of his 
heart." The vessel in which Eainsford was a passenger 
was next driven by stress of weather into Fort Liberte. 
Arrested as a spy, he was condemned to death; but 
Toussaint would not permit the sentence to be carried 
into effect. He dismissed him with a caution not to 
return without passports. 

There is much exaggeration in the account given by 
Eainsford of what he saw and heard at Cap Haicien. 
He talks of 62,000 inhabitants leaving the city after 


the great fire, and of Toussaint reviewing his army of 
60,000 men and 2000 officers. He was a better judge 
probably of their manoeuvres. He says that the soldiers 
went through their exercises with a degree of expert- 
ness he had seldom before witnessed. At the signal of 
a whistle, a whole brigade ran forward three or four 
hundred yards, and then separating, threw themselves 
on the ground, keeping up a heavy fire from every kind 
of position. The complete subordination and discipline 
astonished him. 

Eigaud having evidently decided to carry out Gene- 
ral Hedouville's instructions and defy both Toussaint 
and Eoume, it became necessary to subdue him. Ten 
thousand men were collected at Port-au-Prince, whilst 
Eigaud concentrated his army at Mirago§,ne, and com- 
menced the war by seizing Petit Goave, and there, 
without the slightest excuse, murdered all the white 
inhabitants. It is singular to contrast the conduct of 
the two generals : Toussaint, without the slightest pre- 
judice of colour, and Eigaud, the mulatto, the son of a 
Prenchman, showing "how he hated his father and 
despised his mother" by murdering the whites and 
refusing to obey a black. 

Eoume published a proclamation, calling on the 
north and west to march against the south to restore 
unity of command ; but before entering on the campaign, 
Toussaint had to return to the north to repress some 
movements, and on his journey back almost fell into 
two ambuscades, from which he was saved by the fleet- 


ness of his horse. Toussaint shot those who were con- 
cerned in these conspiracies, whether black or coloured ; 
but the stories told by St. Eemy of his ordering i8o 
young mulatto children to be drowned at L'Arcahaye, 
is so contrary to everything we know of his character, 
that we may set this fable down to caste hatred. That 
he was severe with his enemies is no doubt true. 

Then began the wearisome civil war in the south by 
Dessalines driving back Eigaud's army, and by the 
siege of Jacmel, which lasted four months. Pdtion 
greatly distinguished himself in the defence, and con- 
ducted the evacuation. It appears unaccountable that 
while the main body of Toussaint's army was thus 
engaged, Eigaud remained passive; it can only be 
explained by mean jealousy, which was his character- 
istic to the last year of his life. But his principal 
fault was boasting, shown by his proclamation, saying, 
" Let the enemy appear and I'll slay them," which was 
answered by another from Toussaint offering pardon 
and peace. 

Toussaint's army in the south was commanded by 
Dessalines and Christophe, or, in other words, by two 
ferocious blacks, to whom pity was unknown. Dessa- 
lines soon forced the strong position near Miragoane, and 
defeated Eigaud and Potion, driving them before him 
towards Les Cayes. Eigaud ordered his officers to burn 
and destroy everything in their retreat, which naturally 
roused the inhabitants against these measures of defence, 
and they became clamorous for peace. 


In the meantime the Consular Government at Paris 
sent out officers to Hayti, among whom was Colonel 
Vincent. Toussaint was confirmed in his position as 
general-in-chief, but the war in the south was dis- 
approved. Colonel Vincent was enabled to tell him of 
all the changes that had taken place in France, but the 
black chief could readily see that he was suspected by 
the French Government. He, however, sent Vincent 
and other officers to Les Cayes to offer peace. It is 
amusing to read the account given of Eigaud. He went 
to see the French officers, a blunderbuss on his shoulder, 
pistols in his belt, a sword on one side, and a dagger on 
the other. On hearing that his conduct did not meet 
with the support of the French Government, he drew 
his dagger as if to stab himself, but did not do so ; he 
preferred making a truce and embarking for France, 
together with his principal officers. 

Toussaint entered Les Cayes on the ist August 1800, 
and showed the grandeur of his character by impli- 
citly carrying out his original decree. He again pro- 
claimed union and peace, and pardoned aU those who 
had been led into rebellion against him; and, to the 
astonishment of his enemies, he kept his word and 
behaved with great magnanimity. Even his worst 
opponents were then constrained to allow that, when 
once given, he never broke his word. 

If Toussaint was clement, Dessalines was the re- 
verse ; and the mulattoes declare that he killed upwards 
of ten thousand of their caste, which is probably 


more of that colour than the southern province ever 

Whilst this campaign was at its height, Eoume com- 
mitted the indiscretion of trying to raise a revolt in 
Jamaica, His agents were taken and hung ; and as a 
punishment the English captured one of Toussaint's 
convoys destined for Jacmel. The General, very angry 
■with Eoume, sent for him ; he refused to come, upon 
which Toussaint went to Cap Haitien, and after re- 
proaching him, insisted on his giving him an order to 
invade the eastern end of the island. He refused at 
first, but ultimately yielded to the menaces of General 

When the southern campaign was over, Toussaint 
began to prepare for the occupation of Santo Domingo, 
but finding that Eoume was inclined to withdraw his 
permission, he arrested him and sent him back to 
Trance. Toussaint's prestige was now so great in the 
island, that little resistance was made, and he occupied 
the city of Santo Domingo almost without a shot being 
fired, and established his brother Paul as governor. 

The whole of the island being now under one chief, 
Toussaint decided to put into execution a constitution 
which he had already promulgated. It was certainly 
a model of liberality. It placed all colours equal before 
the law ; employments might be held by black, white, 
or coloured ; as much freedom of trade as possible ; a 
governor to be named for five years, but on account of 
the eminent services of Toussaint, he was to occupy 


that post for life, with power to name his successor. 
He sent this constitution to Buonaparte for approval ; 
but evidently it was too much or too little. Had 
he boldly proclaimed the independence of the island, 
he might have saved the country from great misfor- 

Peace being now re-established over all the island, 
Toussaint began his civil administration. All accounts 
are unanimous in declaring that he himself governed 
admirably, but the instruments he had to employ 
were too often utterly unworthy. He organised the 
country into districts, and appointed inspectors to 
see that all returned to their work, and decreed that 
a fifth of the produce should be given to the labourers. 
Dessalines was appointed inspector-in-chief; and if 
a man without any sentiment of humanity was re- 
quired for that post, surely Dessalines was a good 
choice, as he was ready to beat to death any man, 
woman, or child whom he chose to accuse of idleness. 
Toussaint, looking to difficulties ahead, continued to 
pay the greatest attention to his army, organised it 
with care, and preserved the strictest discipline. The 
stick appears to have been as popular in that day as 
it is now. 

Toussaint was very friendly to the whites, and was 
most anxious to encourage them to aid in developing 
the country. This excited the jealousy of some of his 
generals ; among others, of Moise, his nephew, who to 
thwart his uncle's projects incited a movement in the 


north to massacre the French. Several having fallen 
victims, Tonssaint hastened to the spot, and finding 
that Moise was the real instigator of the murders, sent 
him before a court-martial. He was sentenced to death, 
and very properly shot on the 26th November 1800. 
Had Toussaint connived at these crimes, he would 
Lave upset all confidence in his trusted word. 

All was now progressing on the island ; the govern- 
ment was regularly administered, the finances were 
getting into order, and agriculture was beginning to 
raise its head, when Buonaparte, having secured peace 
in Europe, determined to recover the Queen of the 
Antilles and restore slavery. The story of this attempt 
may be told in a few words. General Leclerc started 
with 30,000 men to subdue the island, and although 
the evident intention of the French Government was 
to restore slavery, the principal mulatto officers accom- 
panied him, chief among whom were Eigaud, Petion, 
and Vilatte. It is true the mulattoes had not yet 
frankly accepted the full freedom of the blacks. 

General Leclerc did all he could to cause an armed 
resistance, as a peaceful solution would have given him 
no military glory ; therefore, instead of sending Tous- 
saint his children and the letter he bore from Buona- 
parte, he tried to surprise Cap Haitien. But General 
Christophe, before retiring with its garrison, set fire to 
the town and almost destroyed it ; and Toussaint gave 
instructions to his other generals to follow this example. 
Leclerc, mortified by the result of his first attempt, now 


thought of writing to Toussaint, and sent him his two 
boys. Toussaint behaved with great nobility of char- 
acter, and asked naturally, " Why words of peace but 
acts of war ? " Finding that he could not circumvent 
his black opponent, Leclerc published a decree in 
February 1802, placing both Toussaint and Christophe 
"hoTs la loi." This was followed by the burning of the 
towns of St. Marc and Gonaives, and a retreat of the 
black troops towards the interior. 

Whenever you see a fortress in Hayti, you are sure 
to be told that it was built by the English; among 
others thus known was La Crete k Pierrot. The French 
general Debelle, treating with contempt these negro 
troops, attacked this fort with an inefficient force and 
was beaten ; then Leclerc made an assault in person, 
but he also was beaten, and was forced to lay siege to 
it. The attack and defence were conducted with sin- 
gular courage, particularly the latter, considering the 
quality of the men, who had never before been mea- 
sured with real white troops; however, after having 
repulsed several assaults, the garrison evacuated the 
forts. Petion commanded a portion of the French 
artillery in this attack on his countrymen struc^lin" 
for freedom. If he loved France but little, he hated 
Toussaint more. 

Even the enemies of the great black general are 
full of admiration of the courage displayed by him 
during all this important struggle, and especially dwell 
on his devotion to his wounded officers. I may here 


remark that the French general Eochambeau distin- 
guished himself for his cruelties, and shot every 
prisoner that fell into his hands ; which fully justified 
the retaliation of the Haytians. 

Discouraged by a series of reverses which followed 
the loss of La CrSte k Pierrot, where it was amply 
proved that negro soldiers, even among their moun- 
tains, were no match for the disciplined troops of 
France, some of the black generals, as Christophe, 
began to make terms with the French ; and Toussaint, 
iinding himself thus abandoned, wrote to Leclerc 
offering submission. As it was accepted, he went to 
Cap Haitien to meet the commander-in-chief, and was 
received and treated with much distinction. He then 
returned to the village of Marmalade, and there issued 
orders to all his officers to cease opposition and acknow- 
ledge the French authorities, and peace was established 
throughout the island. 

General Leclerc was but temporising with these 
black leaders ; his secret orders were, not only to arrest 
Toussaint, Dessalines, and Christophe, but to re-establish 
slavery. He found, however, the last two so zealous 
in carrying out his instructions to disarm the popula- 
tion, that he preserved them in their commands. 

Toussaint himself, having ever kept his word, could 
not believe that the French commander-in-chief would 
not keep his, and therefore, in spite of all warnings that 
treachery was meditated, stayed quietly on his estate 
at Ennery. He there received a letter from General 


Brunet, asking for an interview at a certain spot; 
Toussaint went, and was immediately arrested under 
circumstances of the greatest treachery. He was bound 
■with cords and embarked on board the French ship 
Creole; then put on board the Heros with all his 
family and sent to France. When received on board 
by Savary, chef de division, he said to him, "En me 
renversant on n'a abattu k Saint Domingue que le 
tronc de I'arbre de la Uberte des noirs ; il repoussera, 
parceque les raeines en sont profondes et nombreuses." 
When reading this account bf the capture of Toussaint, 
we can scarcely credit that we are recording the acts of 
Trench officers, wliose plighted word was thus broken.^: 

On Toussaint's arrival in Trance he wrote to the 
French Chief Consul; but he might as well have 
written to Dessalines as expect either mercy or justice 
from the despot who then ruled France. He was 
separated from his family and hurried off to the 
Chateau de Joux in the Alps, where his rival Eigaud 
was already confined. Here he died from cold and 
neglect, under circumstances which raised the suspi- 
cion that the close of this illustrious life was hastened 
by unfair means. It is some satisfaction to remember 
that his executioner died also a prisoner in exile, 
though surrounded by every comfort that the generous 
English Government could afford him. 

We have all heard or read something of Toussaint 

^ St. Eemy, speaking of Toussaint's capture, sajs, " Embarquement 
ar les blancs." How like a mulatto not to say "par les fran9ais !" 


L'Ouverture, and been taught to think well of him. I 
■was therefore the more surprised, on my arrival at 
Port-au-Prince, to hear his memory so depreciated. I 
do not remember any Haytian having voluntarily 
spoken of him, though they never wearied of talking 
of Dessalines, Christophe, and Eigaud. I at first 
thought that Toussaint's never having unnecessarily 
shed the blood of the whites, whilst the others may be 
said to have rejoiced at the sight of it, was one of 
the chief causes ; but the real reason why the histo- 
rians and biographers of Hayti would lower Toussaint's 
memory is the energy with which he acted against the 
rebellious mulattoes, and his firm determination that 
all colours should be equally respected by the law, and 
that all should have equal rights. 

It is impossible not to be struck with almost the 
unanimous opinion favourable to Toussaint which has 
been recorded by all parties, even by his enemies. The 
Marquis d'Hermonas says that " God in this terrestrial 
globe could not commune with a purer spirit ; " the 
French general Pamphile Lacroix records that "Nul 
n'osait I'aborder sans crainte, et nul ne le quittait sans 
respect." We have seen the opinion of Eoume and 
Eainsford, that Toussaint was " a philosopher, a legis- 
lator, a general, and a good citizen," and that the latter 
was compelled to admire him as '' a man, a governor, 
and a general." 

He was personally brave, and being a splendid rider, 
loving from his earliest childhood to be on horseback, 


he never appeared fatigued even after the greatest 
exertions. As a general he is thought to have shown 
much skill; and, what proves his sense, but does not 
add to his popularity among Haytians, he did not 
believe that his men were fitted to cope with the 
trained bands of France. He constantly said that they 
must trust to climate and yellow-fever as their best 
allies. As an administrator, he had much capacity, 
and his influence being unbounded, he would probably 
have restored its old prosperity to Hayti, had not 
Leclerc's expedition arrived to throw the whole island 
into confusion. 

Toussaint's personal qualities appear to have been 
equal to his public : his word was sacred, he was 
humane on most occasions, yet with a firmness and 
decision which astonished his enemies. In his family 
relations he showed the most tender affection for wife 
and children ; his fine nature was apparent on all occa- 
sions in his solicitude for his wounded officers and 
soldiers, and the thoughtful care of the prisoners that 
fell into his hands. His affectionate treatment of ani- 
mals was also greatly noticed, and whenever he came 
upon fugitive women and children of any colour, his 
first thought was for their comfort. 

Our Consul-General Mackenzie (1827) often talked 
to the black officers of Toussaint ; they described him as 
stern and unbending, but just, and intimately acquainted 
with the habits of the people and the best interests of 
his country. 


The one mistake of his life appears to have been his 
refusal, when urged to do so by England, to declare the 
independence of Hayti. Had he accepted the English 
proposals and entered into a treaty with us and with 
the Americans, it is not likely that Buonaparte would 
have ever attempted an expedition against him, and 
the history of Hayti might have been happier. 

There is one fact which strikes the reader of the 
histories of these times, and that is, the soldiers are 
described as veritable sansculottes, without pay and 
without proper uniforms, and yet all the chiefs, as 
Toussaint, Dessalines, and Christophe, were living in 
splendid houses in the greatest luxury. Toussaint is 
recorded to have lent the Trench Treasury 600,000 
livres, an enormous sum for a slave to possess after a 
few years of freedom. Gragnon-Lacoste, who published 
a Life of Toussaint L'Ouverture in 1877, founded on 
family papers, says that this general had a marble 
house in Cap Haitien, elegantly furnished, and that he 
kept up the same style in all his plantations. His 
descendants in late years claimed about the fourth of 
Hayti as the estates of the black general.^ 

^ This biography, as well as the others I have seen, is full of absur- 
dities ; talks of Toussaint advancing with an imposing army, which 
turns out to be of 950 men. At the battle of Verretes 1500 blacks 
drive 3500 English troops from their entrenchments, and then 6000 
English are defeated and cut to pieces by a few squadrons. As far as 
I can learn, Brisbane had eighty English soldiers and some untrust- 
worthy black and coloured allies, mixed with Erench planters. Even 
a moderately sensible Haytian could not accept so absurd a biography. 


Toussaint was also a fervent Roman Catholic, and 
was greatly attached to the priesthood ; he did all he 
could to repress the Vaudoux, and he published a 
strong proclamation forbidding all fetish rites.^ 

The treachery of Leclerc towards Toussaint had its 
reward; it could not but excite suspicion among the 
black leaders, as the previous deportation of Eigaud 
had done among the mulattoes. And now the most 
fearful epidemic of yellow-fever fell upon the French 
army, and almost annihilated it. Forty thousand are 
reported to have been lost during the years 1802 and 
1803; among the victims were Leclerc and twenty 
other French generals. The Haytians saw their oppor- 
tunity, and Dessalines, Christophe, and Potion aban- 
doned the invaders, and roused their countrymen to 
expel the weak remnants of the French army. War 
had now been declared between France and England, 
and our fleets were soon off the coasts. The French 
were driven from every point, and forced to concen- 
trate in Cap Haiten. Eochambeau, who had succeeded 
Leclerc, did all that man could do to save his army ; 
but besieged by the blacks to the number of 30,000, 

' I am glad to be able to notice that M. Robin (mulatto), in his 
"Abr^g^ de I'Histoire d'Haiti," remarks in relating Toussaint's sad 
death : — " Ainsi fut r^compens^ de ses longs et ^minents services oet 
illustre enfant d'Haiti, qui pouvait bieu se dire le premier des noirs," 
&c. &o. Dessalines appears to have encouraged Leclerc to arrest 
Toussaint, and then dishonourably betrayed Ch£^^Ies Belair (black), 
"ephew to Toussaint, and his wife into the hands of the French, who 
shot Belair and hung his wife. 


and blockaded by our fleet, pinched by hunger, and 
seeing no hopes of reinforcements, he surrendered to 
the English and embarked for Europe. 

Thus ended one of the most disastrous expeditions 
ever undertaken by France, and ended as it deserved 
to end. Its history was sullied by every species of 
treachery, cruelty, and crime; but we cannot but admire 
the splendid bravery of the troops under every dis- 
couragement, in a tropical climate, where the heat is so 
great that the European is unfitted for continued exer- 
tion, and where yellow-fever and death follow constant 

^•^Mm— — -"""'^ 



"Que deviendra notre pays quand il sera livre a la 
vanity et k I'ignorance," exclaimed Bauvais, one of the 
leaders of the mulatto party. I am afraid this sketch 
of the history of Hayti since the war of independence 
will show what are the results to a country when 
governed by vanity and ignorance. 

Having driven out the French by deeds of unques- 
tionable valour and energy, and with a cruelty which 
the infamous conduct of Eochambeau could palliate, 
if not justify, the Haytians determined to throw off 
all allegiance to Trance and establish an independent 

At Gonaives, on the ist January 1 804, General 
Dessalines assembled all his military chiefs around 
him, and had read to them the Act of Independence, 
which terminated with the words, " for ever to renounce 
France, and to die rather than live under her dominion." 
In a proclamation, Dessalines was careful to declare 
that it was not their mission to disturb the tranquillity 
of neighbouring islands, but in unmistakable language 
he called upon the people to put to death every French- 


man who remained in the island. , This was followed 
by a declaration signed by the chief generals choosing 
Dessalines as Governor- General of Hayti for life, with 
power to name his successor, and to make peace or 
war. He was thus invested with arbitrary power, and 
proceeded to exercise it. 

His first act was the one on which his fame rests, 
and which endears his memory to the Haytians. He 
in fact officially decreed that all the French who were 
convicted or suspected of having connived at the acts 
of the expelled army, with the exception of certain 
classes, as priests and doctors, should be massacred; 
and this applied not only to those suspected of guilt, 
but to their wives and children. Fearing that some of 
his generals, from interest or humanity, might not fully 
carry out his decree, he made a tournie through the 
different departments, and pitilessly massacred every 
French man, woman, or child that fell in his way. One 
can imagine the saturnalia of these liberated slaves 
enjoying the luxury of shedding the blood of those in 
whose presence they had formerly trembled ; and this 
without danger ; for what resistance could those help- 
less men, women, and children offer to their savage 
executioners? Even now one cannot read unmoved 
the records of those days of blood. 

Dessalines, like most of those who surrounded him, 
was in every way corrupt ; he is said to have spared no 
man in his anger or woman in his lust. He was avari- 
cious, but at the same time he permitted his friends 


to share in the public income by every illicit means. 
His government was indeed so corrupt, that even the 
native historians allow that the administration was 
distinguished " for plunder, theft, cheating, and smug- 
gling." Dessalines, when he appointed an employ^, 
used to say, " Plumez la poule, mais prenez garde qu'elle 
ue crie," — the rule by which the Government service is 
still regulated. 

The tyranny exercised by Dessalines and his generals 
on all classes made even the former slaves feel that 
they had changed for the worse. There were no courts 
to mitigate the cruelty of the hard taskmasters, who 
on the slightest pretext would order a man or woman 
to be beaten to death. 

In the month of August 1804 news arrived that 
Buonaparte had raised himself to the imperial throne ; 
Dessalines determined not to be behindhand, and im- 
mediately had himself crowned Emperor. His generals 
were eager that a nobility should be created, but he 
answered, "I am the only noble in Hayti." As the 
eastern portion of the island was still occupied by the 
French, he determined to drive them out ; but he was 
unable to take the city of Santo Domingo, and retired 
again to the west. 

In June 1805 he published a constitution, which 
had been drawn up without consulting his generals, 
and which created great discontent. A conspiracy was 
organised ; a rising in the south followed a visit from 
Dessalines, where he had given full scope to his brutality. 


and the insurgents marched forward and seized Port-au- 
Prince. When the Emperor heard of this movement, 
he hastened to the capital, fell into an ambuscade, and 
was shot at Pont Eouge, about half a mile from the city. 

The only good quality that Dessalines possessed was 
a sort of brute courage ; in all else he was but an 
African savage, distinguished even among his country- 
men for his superior ferocity and perfidy. He was 
incapable as an administrator, and treated the public 
revenue as his own private income. He had concu- 
bines in every city, who were entitled to draw on the 
treasury to meet their extravagance ; in fact, the native 
historians are in truth utterly ashamed of the conduct 
and civO. administration of their national hero.^ 

The death of Dessalines proved the signal of a long 
civil war. A National Assembly met at Port-au-Prince, 
voted a constitution prepared by General Potion, by 
which the power of the chief of the state was reduced 
to a minimum, and then elected Christophe as first 
President of the republic. He in some respects was 
another Dessalines, and resented this effort to restrain 
his authority. He marched on the capital of the west 
with twelve thousand men, but after various combats 
failed to capture the city ; then retired to Cap Haitien, 
and there had a constitution voted by a local congress, 
and he was proclaimed President of Hayti. 

The Senate again met in Port-au-Prince in 1806 to 

^ It waa left for General Salomon to raise a statue to this favourite 
of the Haytian people. 


elect a President, and their choice fell on Potion, who, 
of all the influential men in the west and south, cer- 
tainly appeared the most deserving. He had scarcely 
been installed, when his generals hegan to conspire 
against him, and the war with Christophe absorbed 
most of the resources of the country. No event, how- 
ever, of any great importance occurred till the year 
1 8 lo, when Eigaud, having escaped from France, arrived 
in Hayti, and was received with much enthusiasm. 
Potion apparently shared this feeling for his old chief, 
and imprudently gave him the command of the 
southern department. Eigaud was too vain to remain 
under the authority of Potion, his former subordinate, 
and therefore separated the south from the west. 
The President would not attempt to prevent this by 
war, and accepted the situation, so that the island was 
divided into five states, — Christophe in the north, the 
old Spanish colony in the east, Potion in the west, 
Eigaud in the south, and Goman, a petty African chief, 
in the extreme west of the southern department. 

Christophe in i8ii proclaimed himself King and 
created a nobility. Eigaud died, and soon after the 
south rejoined the west, which was menaced by a new 
invasion from the north. In 1812 Christophe's army 
advanced to besiege Port-au-Prince ; but finding their 
attacks frustrated, the soldiers, weary of the war, be^an 
to desert to Potion, and had not the King hastened to 
raise the siege, it is probable his army would have gone 
over to the enemy. 


King Henry I., as he was called, appears then to 
have abandoned himself to his savage temper, and his 
cruelties might be compared to those of Dessalines, 
and prepared the way for that union of the whole 
island which followed. Potion, though rather an in- 
capable ruler, was not cruel, and attached the people to 
his government. 

In 1 8 14, the fall of Napoleon brought about peace 
in Europe, and the French Government hastened to 
send agents to Hayti to claim submission to the mother 
country. Pdtion refused, whilst offering an indemnity 
to the colonists; but Christophe, having secured the 
secret instructions of the French agent, did not hesitate 
to shoot him. These proceedings of the French made 
the rival chiefs forget their own dissensions and pre- 
pare to receive another French expedition. Orders 
were given that on its appearance off the coast every 
town and village should be burnt down, and that 
the inhabitants should retire to the mountains. The 
old planters were urging their Government to destroy 
all the inhabitants of Hayti and repeople it from Africa ; 
but a discovery of their projects produced so great an 
effect in England, that public opinion forced the Con- 
gress of Vienna to declare that the slave-trade was for 
ever abolished. 

In 18 16 Pdtion named a commission to revise the 
constitution ; the principal alterations were to elect a 
President for life and to add to the Senate a Chamber 
of Deputies. Pdtion, however, did not long enjoy his 


new dignity; he died in 1818, at the early age of forty- 
eight, it is said of fever, but the opinion is still prevalent 
in Hayti that he died of weariness of life, brought on 
by the loss of all his illusions and the constant public 
and private annoyances to which he was subjected. 
During his illness he is said to have refused all restora- 
tives, and even to have rejected food. Potion, though 
not a great man, sincerely loved his country, and 
devoted his energies to govern it well; but he was 
feeble in his measures, and from love of popularity 
allowed every kind of abuse to flourish in the financial 
administration. M. Eobin, however, says truly that he 
was " the most popular and humane chief that Hayti 
ever possessed." 

Boyer, through the energetic intervention of the 
military, was unanimously chosen by the Senate Pre- 
sident of the republic, and commenced his long career 
as chief of the state in March 1818. Though he com- 
mitted many faults, he appears to have been the most 
energetic and honest of the series of Haytian rulers. 
His first care was to establish order in the finances ; and 
if his only errors were not to have erected a statue to 
his predecessor or founded an hospital for beggars, with 
which M. Eobin appears to reproach him, his friends 
may still be permitted to admire him. Fortune, or 
rather his energy, everywhere favoured him. In 18 19 
he put down the long-neglected insurrection of Goman 
in the far west, and then prepared to move against 
King Henry, whose sayage rule had alienated the 


affection even of . his own guards. Struck down by 
apoplexy, tlie chief of the northern department was 
deserted by all, and sought refuge from anticipated 
indignities in suicide. 

The north almost unanimously determined to rejoin 
the rest of the republic, and Boyer marched on Cap 
Haitien, to be received there with enthusiasm as the 
first President of United Hayti. 

Christophe was no doubt a very remarkable man, 
with indomitable energy, who saw the necessity of 
developing his country, but whose despotic nature cared 
not for the means, so that the end was attained. In 
spite of many admitted atrocities, however, there is 
no doubt he acquired a marked ascendancy over the 
minds of the people, which even to this day is not 
completely lost. Discussions still continue as to the 
rival systems of Potion and Christophe, but if to secure 
the greatest happiness to the greatest number be the 
object of the government, the laisser-aller system of 
the former was more suited to Haytian nature than the 
severity of the latter. As far as material prosperity 
was concerned, there was no comparison between the 
two departments, though the productiveness of the 
north was founded on the liberal application of the 
stick. On many of the large estates, a certain number 
of lashes was served out every morning as regularly as 
the rations. 

Boyer's fortune continued. In 1822 Santo Domingo 
separated from Spain and placed herself under the 


command of the President of Hayti, who was welcomed 
in the Dominican capital with every demonstration 
of joy. 

In the next important event of his Presidency, Boyer 
was not so fortunate. From the year 1814 France had 
been continually tormenting the Government of Hayti 
with the claims of her colonists, and negotiations were 
carried on by the two parties without much success till 
1825, when Baron de Mackau was sent with a fleet to 
enforce the acceptance of French terms. Though the 
wording of the royal ordinance was mortifying to the 
Haytians, and the indemnity demanded (;£^6,ooo,ooo) 
out of the power of that little country to pay, yet 
Boyer and the senate thought it better to acquiesce, to 
avoid the evils of a blockade which would have fol- 
lowed refusal. The indemnity was so enormous, that 
although it was subsequently reduced to ^3,600,000, it 
has not yet been completely discharged. The terms of 
the royal ordinance created great indignation amongst 
the people, and the French Government acting evasively 
added to the excitement, and a plot was formed to 
overthrow Boyer. But he showed his usual energy; 
arrested four conspirators and sent them before a court- 
martial, which, with thorough Haytian disregard of 
justice, allowed no defence, as a pure waste of time, 
and condemned them to death. They were shot under 
circumstances of even unusual barbarity. 

These negotiations with France continued to un- 
settle the country until 1838. M. Dupetit Thouars 


had visited Port-au-Prince, and being convinced that 
Hayti was really unable to pay this great indemnity, 
induced his Government to reconsider the matter ; and 
a fresh mission was sent, consisting of Baron de Lascases 
and Captain Baudin. Two treaties were negotiated — 
one political, by which Prance acknowledged the com- 
plete independence of the republic ; the second financial, 
by which the balance to be paid of the indemnity was 
reduced to ;^ 2,400,000. As thirty years were allowed 
for this payment, in annual instalments on an average 
of ;^ 80,000, no doubt Hayti could have paid it had 
the country remained tranquil. The acknowledgment 
of ihis debt, however, was seized on by the political 
enemies of Boyer to undermine his position, and the 
cry was raised that he had sold the country to the 
whites. The continued necessity of sending Prench 
naval expeditions to enforce the payment of the arrears 
of this debt has been injurious to the interests of all 
Europeans, has increased the unpopularity of foreigners, 
and helped to support the policy of those who wish to 
keep the white man out of the country. Among the 
people, the popular song 

"Blancs francais viennent demander Targent," 

implies that they have unfairly made use of their naval 
strength in order to extract money which was not due 
to them from a people incapable of effectual resistance. 
This wretched debt to Prance has been the cause of half 
the misfortunes of Hayti. 


The Government of General Boyer had certainly the 
merit of preserving tranquillity, and if ever population 
should have increased in Hayti, it "was during this tran- 
quil epoch, when for above twenty years no blood was 
shed in warlike operations, and very little in repressing 
conspiracies. In 1825 England formally acknowledged 
the republic of Hayti by entering into relations with 
her, sending Mr. Mackenzie as Consul-General. His 
reports and writings drew considerable attention to the 

In March 1836 Dr. England negotiated a concordat 
by which the Pope was acknowledged head of the 
Haytian Church, with the power of confirming the 
nomination of bishops. However, this arrangement had 
little practical effect, as the clergy remained without 
control, and were a scandal to every true Catholic. 

I am quite unable to reconcile the reports made of 
the state of affairs in Hayti at this time. After a 
twenty years' peace, the country is described as in a 
state of ruin, without trade or resources of any kind ; 
with peculation and jobbery paramount in all the public 
offices; an army supposed to consist of 45,000 men, 
according to the Budget — in reality, few soldiers, but 
many officers, among wliom the appropriations were 
divided. I feel as if I were reading of more modern 
times instead of the halcyon days of Haytian history. 

Another of the evils which arose from the indem- 
nity question was the special position which it gave to 
French agents, who, even after the independence of the 


republic had been recognised, affected to treat Hayti 
as a dependency until all the debt should have been 
paid. The most conceited of these agents at this time 
threw the whole country into commotion on account 
of an article in a newspaper, and continued to harass 
the Government on every possible occasion with his 
absurd pretensions. 

The close of Boyer's career was as unfortunate as its 
commencement had been the reverse. To the humilia- 
tions inflicted by the French Consul-General was now 
added the necessity of saluting the Spanish flag under 
threat of bombardment. Throughout Haytian history 
these affairs are continually recurring; no people are 
more ready to insult foreigners, nor more humiliated by 
the necessary reparation. 

The greatest calamity, however, was the earthquake 
of 1842, which injured every :city in the northern de- 
partment, and almost annihilated Cap Haitien. I have 
referred to this event in a previous chapter, when the pea- 
santry from the plains and mountains, and the officers 
and soldiers of the garrison, vied with each other in 
plundering the city, whilst 5000 of their countrymen 
were buried in the ruins, the cries of many of whom 
could for days be heard imploring that help which 
might readily have been afforded, but whose supplica- 
tions were unheeded by the brutal populace. 

This calamity in the north was followed by another 
in Port-au-Prince, where a large portion of the city 
was burnt down. These extensive fires appear to be 


incendiary, as they almost always occur at moments of 
political excitement. 

The humiliations inflicted on President Boyer by 
the French and Spaniards, and the discontent that 
followed the great losses in the northern department, 
encouraged the ill-affected, and early in 1843 an insur- 
rection broke out in the south under Herard-Eiviere, a 
fair mulatto. After a brief show of resistance, Boyer 
abdicated in March, thus closing a Presidency of twenty- 
five years. 

General Boyer showed considerable talent during bis 
administration, but he was essentially narrow-minded, 
and full of prejudice against foreigners. During the 
last ten years of his rule he had conceived the project 
of expelling them from Hayti in a legal manner by 
refusing any fresh licenses to trade; but though he 
in some measure succeeded, he increased the discon- 
tent against him, as his countrymen are only capable 
of conducting with success a retail business, and re- 
quire foreigners for the larger operations of commerce. 
Boyer had the rare quality of being honest, and left 
in the treasury, on his departure, the sum of ;£'20O,00O, 
the first and last chief who was ever guilty of so un- 
accountable a weakness. His time is still remembered 
as one of repose, and the troubles which followed his 
departure soon made even his enemies regret his fall. 
Her Majesty's corvette Scylla had the honour of con- 
ducting General Boyer and his family to Jamaica. It 
will be noticed hereafter that almost every President 


has died prematurely, or claimed the hospitality of a 
foreign ship of war to bear him into exile. 

When the popular army entered Port-au-Prince, it 
was hailed as the precursor of better days, but scarcely 
had a Provisional Government been organised than the 
blacks began to conspire, as they wanted a President 
of their own colour. General Dalzon went so far as to 
propose that they should put to death every mulatto. 
However, the latter had now the upper hand, and the 
General was taken, and disappeared from the scene. 

The most serious result of the overthrow of General 
Boyer was the separation of the eastern end of the 
island and its formation into a distinct republic. The 
brutality of the Haytian ofiScers and soldiers who gar- 
risoned that part of the country no doubt hastened this 
secession. I have often listened to President Geffrard 
when he was describing his own conduct and that of 
others towards the Dominicans, and my only wonder 
was that they did not separate before. 

On December 30, 1843, the Constituent Assembly 
finished their new constitution, and then elected Gene- 
ral Herard-Eivi^re President of Hayti; contemporary 
accounts say " with much enthusiasm." He soon 
found it was not a bed of roses. M. Barrot arrived 
with the object of obtaining a monopoly of the Hay- 
tian trade for Prance, by relieving the Government 
of the immediate payment of the instalments due on 
the indemnity. But the President was more anxious 
to subdue the Dominicans than to negotiate, and on 


their proclaiming their independence in February 1844, 
he collected an army, it is said of from 24,000 to 30,000 
men, and marched to attack them. The numbers must 
be greatly exaggerated ; but whatever they were, they 
did nothing, and after many skirmishes they only pene- 
trated as far as Azua, and there the President halted, 
complaining that he was harassed by French intrigues 
in favour of the Dominicans. 

How Boyer must have smiled when he heard, within 
a twelvemonth of his departure, that the Government 
of his successor was considered more arbitrary and was 
more unpopular than his own. In April, after four 
short months of power, H^rard-Eivifere was deposed, 
amidst even greater enthusiasm than marked his acces- 
sion, and banished. General Guerrier was elected in 
his place, and died after twelve months of debauchery. 
In his political acts he appears to have managed fairly 
well, and he had to contend against the French agents, 
who were working for either a protectorate, or, if that 
were not possible, exclusive commercial advantages for 
their country. They made themselves so unpopular 
that their naval officers and men were insulted in the 
streets, and their almost open support of the Dominican 
revolt rendered them obnoxious to the Government. 

As the popular wish for a black President had been 
unmistakably expressed at the election of Guerrier, an 
incapable black of the name of Pierrot was chosen to 
succeed him ; but his Government was upset in less 
than a twelvemonth, and President Rich^, another 


black, was chosen by the troops at St. Marc, who did 
not wish to march against the Dominicans (March i, 
1846). In almost every encounter the Haytian troops 
had been defeated by a handful of their enemies ; 
they had no heart in the war, and the exaggerated 
stories of the peculiarly objectionable mutilations from 
which their prisoners suffered, and the arrival of some 
of these unfortunates, spread a panic in the Haytian 
army, and the soldiers would not march. 

Eiche has left a very good reputation as a President, 
which may partly be accounted for by his judicious 
choice of Ministers. He had Celigny-Ardouin and 
Dupuy among them, and both these men were con- 
sidered capable administrators, and both will again 
appear upon the scene. 

The black mob in the south rose in arms against 
Eichd, but after some resistance the movement was 
suppressed. Unfortunately for the country, this Pre- 
sidency did not last a twelvemonth, as Eichd died on 
the 27th February 1847. He was sincerely regretted, 
as, although an ignorant man, he was capable of choos- 
ing good advisers. He left the country perfectly tran- 
quil, with reduced expenditure, order in the finances, 
and his firm hand had been felt throughout the republic. 
He protected foreigners, without whom he saw there 
was no prosperity possible. During the time of Guerrier 
and Pierrot there was a perfect mania for public em- 
ployment, and every officer appeared to wish to live in 
luxury at the expense of the state ; but Eiche's prudent 


management checked this infatuation. His Govern- 
ment restored the constitution of 1816, which, though 
it included Article 7, directed against foreigners acquir- 
ing real property, yet assured freedom of worship. He 
too is said to have died at an advanced age from the 
effects of debauchery. 

On March 2 the enlightened Ministers of the late 
General Eich4 chose as President of the republic a 
black captain of the guards of the name of Soulouque. 
He was an ignorant, stupid man, completely unfit for 
any public employment, but it is said that he was 
chosen as an instrument that could be easily handled 
by his Ministers. He was known to be given up to 
fetish-worship, and soon after his election he began to 
fear that some wanga or poison might be given him. 
He put aside Eich^'s Ministers, to supply their places 
with nonentities, and advanced to the first rank the 
most ignorant blacks of the army. He excited hatred 
against the men of colour, whom he feared for their in- 
telligence ; but, alarmed by his growing unpopularity, 
he dismissed his incapables and restored Dupuy and 
others to power. 

Soulouque had placed in command of his guards a 
general of the name of Similien, who was the black the 
most notorious for his hatred of the mulattoes that he 
could find. During the absence of the President in the 
north, this man refused to obey the orders pf the Govern- 
ment, seized the palace, and threatened to massacre the 
mulattoes, but this result was deferred for a short time. 


A curious affair occurred towards the end of 1847. 
A senator of the name of Courtois had written an article 
in a newspaper at which the President took offence ; 
though Courtois was a scurrilous writer who had been 
previously tried for an insolent article, but who had 
been triumphantly acquitted when it was found he 
only insulted the foreign community, had on this last 
occasion written some reasonable comments on the atti- 
tude assumed by General Similien and his followers. 
The Senate, to please the President, sentenced Courtois 
to a month's imprisonment. But when Soulouque 
heard of this, he went into one of his ungovernable 
passions, assembled his generals, called out his troops, 
and condemned Courtois to death, and ordered the 
immediate execution of the culprit. The sentence 
would certainly have been carried into effect, had not 
our agents. Consul Ussher, Vice-Consul Wyke, and the 
Trench Consul-General Eaybaud interfered, and per- 
suaded Soulouque to pardon him ; he was, however, ban- 
ished. And Senator Courtois owed his life to foreigners, 
whom he had spent his best energies in abusing ! 

Throughout the spring of 1849 an uneasy feeling 
appears to have pervaded the country that some cala- 
mity was about to take place. On the 9th April the 
rabble assembled round the palace and demanded that 
the respectable Ministry then in power should be dis- 
missed. As this movement was evidently encouraged 
by Soulouque, they resigned; but all were assembled 
at the palace on the i6th April, when suddenly the 


guards, who had been drawn up before it, opened fire 
upon the crowd in the galleries and rooms, and a sauve 
qui peut followed. General Dupuy told me that in 
a moment he comprehended that a massacre of the 
mulattoes was meant ; he sprang on a horse, and dashed 
for the high iron railings that surrounded the palace 
gardens, jumped down, and although closely pursued, 
managed to get over these high rails, how he knew 
not, and escaped. Celigny-Ardouin, less fortunate, was 
severely wounded, and as he lay on a sofa was reviled 
by the President, who said he should be shot. Consul 
Ussher was present in the palace during this scene, and 
acted admirably, with his colleague of France, in trying 
to save those who had not been able to put themselves 
under their direct protection. He ran the greatest 
personal dangers, and narrowly escaped being shot by 
the excited soldiery. 

From the palace the massacring passed on to the town, 
where every mulatto who showed himself was murdered; 
many assembled in groups to defend themselves, but 
only hastened their fate, whilst hundreds ran for refuge 
to the Consulates. The news spread to the southern 
department, and murder and plunder followed in every 
district, and the property of the mulattoes was given to 
the flames. A few black generals who tried to preserve 
order were shot as accomplices of the mulattoes in their 
supposed conspiracy. The President was delighted with 
the energy of his supporters in the south, and went in 
person to thank them. On his return he pardoned six 


innocent men, and thus gained a little popularity among 
his cowed adversaries. It is pleasant to know how our 
Acting-Consul Wyke ^7orked to save those menaced 
with death. But even he had little influence over 
the faithless President, who would grant a pardon at 
his intercession, and then shoot the pardoned prisoner. 
After General Desmaril and Edmond Pelix had been 
executed in 1849 in the market-place, and died after 
receiving twenty discharges, Soulouq^ue went with his 
staff to inspect their mangled bodies and gloat over the 
scene. Naturally Celigny-Ardouin did not escape ; he 
was shot, but Wyke was enabled to save many others 
and send them out of the country. In fact, the chiefs 
of the mulatto party who escaped death had all to go 
into exile. 

In 1849, I may notice, Soulouque abolished the 
Ministry, and named as Secretary-General Dufrfene, and 
as Minister of Finance Salomon, until lately President 
of Hayti ; and in April, invigorated by his massacre of 
the mulattoes, invaded Santo Domingo with a numerous 
army. He had some success at Azua and St. Jean, but 
he was surprised at Ocoa by General Santana, and the 
whole Haytian army fled before 500 Dominicans. And 
these were the descendants of the men who fought so 
bravely against the French. It was after this defeat 
that Soulouque returned to his capital, and, full of anger 
at his discomfiture, committed the judicial murders pre- 
viously recorded. 

All black chiefs have a hankering after the forms as 


well as the substance of despotic power, and Soulouque 
was no exception to the rule. He therefore decided to 
foUow in the footsteps of Dessalines, and was elected 
Emperor, August 26, 1 849. A fresh constitution was 
naturally required, and this was a strange medley of 
republican and aristocratic institutions. Soulouque did 
not disappoint his generals, and created a nobility : four 
princes and hfty-nine dukes headed the list, followed 
by innumerable marquises, counts, and barons. This 
contented the chiefs, and quiet reigned for a short time. 
In 1850, England, France, and the United States 
united to oppose diplomatically the war with Santo 
Domingo ; during these long negotiations the Haytian 
Government appeared influenced by the conviction 
that to concede independence to Santo Domingo would 
introduce the foreign element into the island, and, by 
the development of the eastern province, end in rob- 
bing Hayti of its independence. A year's truce was 
obtained, however, in October 185 1. The negotiations 
were admirably conducted by our agent, Consul-General 
Ussher. One of the difficulties against which the diplo- 
matists had to contend was the personal feelings of the 
Emperor, which had been outraged by the Dominicans 
calling him a rey de farsa, an opera-louffe king. There 
is no doubt but that they really did look for assistance 
abroad, owing to the poverty of the country arising 
from their eight years' war with Hayti, and the inter- 
nal dissensions which always follow national financial 


Oa the 1 8th April 1852 Soulouque was crowned 
Emperor under the title of Patistin I. He had no fear 
of exciting discontent by lavish expenditure. He paid 
;£'2000 for his crown, and spent ^30,000 for the rest 
of the paraphernalia. He was liberal to his nobility, 
and had few internal troubles after he shot his Grand 
Judge Francisque and four companions for supposed 
conspiracy, and had condemned Prince Bobo for some 
imprudent words. 

Soulouque, it is fair to say, gained the good opinion 
of many of our countrymen on account of the protec- 
tion which he generally accorded to foreigners, and a 
supposed predilection for the English, which the manly 
and conciliatory conduct of our agents had greatly 
fostered, and which contrasted with that of the French 
agents, who brought a fleet to Port-au-Prince under 
Admiral Duquesne to threaten to bombard the capital 
(1853). No events occurred worthy of record, except 
the interminable negotiations to induce the Emperor to 
conclude peace with Santo Domingo, which occupied 
1853 and 1854. 

The year 1855 was enlivened by a very comic quarrel 
between the Haytian Government and the Spanish 
agent. The Emperor had decided that every one that 
passed the palace should show his respect for his of&ce 
by raising his hat. It appears that a Spanish employ^ 
did not observe this formality, and was stopped by the 
guard, who insisted on his complying with it. The 
Emperor, attracted by the altercation, .put his head out 


of a window of the palace and cried, " Qui moun-qa 

sacr^ f blanc qui veut pas saluer mou palais> 

f ? " The Spanish agent had a long discussion 

with the Haytian Foreign Office, and would not accept 
the denial by the Emperor of his having used these 
words ; in fact, there was much ado about nothing. 

In spite of all the efforts of the foreign Consuls, 
Soulouque in December 1855 marched with all his 
forces to attack the Dominicans — those under his 
personal command numbering, it is said, 15,000 men. 
But in January 1856 he was disgracefully beaten by 
the enemy. His ti'oops fled at the first volley, and 
losing their way in the woods, fell into the hands of 
their enemies, who did not spare them. The Emperor, 
furious at his defeat, shot several superior officers for 
treachery or cowardicpi, and then returned with the re- 
mains of his army to his capital, where he was received 
in mournful silence, amid the scarcely-concealed mur- 
murs of the people ; the muttered curses of the women at 
the loss of their relatives being particularly remarked. 

This dissatisfaction could not escape the notice of the 
Emperor, and to assuage his outraged feelings he shot 
sixteen men in Les Cayes, amid such circumstances of 
barbarity that even Haytians of all classes were moved 
by feelings of indignation and disgust. But Soulouque 
cared not ; he shot three others and condemned 'above 
fifty to his dungeons, where little more was heard of 
them; in fact, they are said to have been beaten or 
starved to death. 


After renewed efforts on the part of foreign agents, 
a truce of two years was negotiated with. Santo Do- 
mingo. The fall of the empire was now a mere matter 
of time. The people were disgusted with the losses 
incurred during the last invasion of the eastern pro- 
vince, which had been more disastrous than all the 
former attacks ; the finances were in the greatest dis- 
order ; peculation and pillage were the order of the day ; 
a great incendiary fire in Port-au-Prince occurred in 
1857, and in 1858 heavy commercial failures followed 
a wild speculation in bills and coffee. Discontent was 
rife, and all turned their eyes to General Geffrard as 
the only man who could rescue them from this disas- 
trous condition of affairs. He had gained great popu- 
larity in the army during the last invasion of Santo 
Domingo, when he commanded the rear-guard during' 
the retreat, and it was acknowledged that liis bravery 
and devotion had saved the remnants of the troops from 
destruction. The Haytians had had four black rulers 
in succession, and thought they could not be less pros- 
perous under the rule of an intelligent mulatto. 

The Emperor kept a watch on Geffrard, but he be- 
haved with so much prudence that there was no excuse 
to imprison him. At last, in December 1858, the order 
for his arrest was given; but warned by a friend, he 
embarked during the night in an open boat with a few 
followers, and on his amval at the town of Gonaives 
proclaimed the deposition of the Emperor and the re- 
establishment of the republic. He was received " with 


enthusiasm," and in a few days all the north and 
north-west adhered to the revolution, and he began his 
march on Port-au-Prince with an army of about 6000 

On hearing of this insurrection, the Emperor moved 
out to meet his opponent, but with only 3000 discon- 
tented soldiers, who, after a skirmish with the in- 
surgents, retreated, and Soulouque re-entered Port-au- 
Prince with his forces reduced by desertion to 1500. 
Finding that the whole country had declared against 
him, the Emperor abdicated on the 15th January 1859, 
and retired for safety to the French Legation. 

On his re-entry into the city on the loth, Soulouque, 
furious with his rival, ordered Madame Geffrard and her 
daughters to be put to death, but yielded to the inter- 
cession of our agents. However, the populace of all 
colours were so united against the ex-Emperor and some 
of his chiefs, that fears were entertained that they would 
break into the French Legation and kill all the refu- 
gees. The attitude of the tumultuous crowd became 
so menacing, and the indifference of the Haytian guard 
so marked, that M. Mellinet appealed to our acting 
Consul-General Byron for protection. 

Hearing of the danger to which all foreigners were 
exposed in Port-au-Prince, the captain of an English 
transport, the Melbourne, with the consent of Captain 
M'Crea, who commanded a detachment of artillery on 
board, steered for the capital and arrived at a critical 
moment. Seeing that the French Legation was about to 


be invaded, Byron took the bold resolution of calling oil 
Captain M'Crea to land his artillerymen and protect 
the refugees. This they did, and, strange to say, the 
mob, instead of resenting this armed interference, were 
delighted at the magnificent appearance of the men 
and their perfect discipline, and cheered them more 
than ever they cheered one of their own regiments. 
This movement saved the Emperor ; he and his fol- 
lowers were subsequently embarked on board the 
MelhouTTie, and followed Boyer and Hdrard-Eivifere to 

Too much credit cannot be given to this bold pro- 
ceeding of Mr. Byron and of Captain M'Crea ; it had 
an admirable effect, and for years after, the landing 
of these fine men was a subject of conversation among 
the people. All felt that more had been saved than 
the French Legation and the lives of the refugees, as 
once pillage had commenced it would have been diffi- 
cult to prevent its spreading through the town. 

Thus closed the ignoble reign of Soulouque, one of 
the most contemptible rulers that ever existed even in 
Hayti. Peculation on the one hand, and cruelty and 
cowardice on the other, marked almost every event of 
these disastrous twelve years of misgovernment. As 
a trait of Haytian manners, I may notice the curious 
way in which his sable Majesty acquired a wife. There 
was in Soulouque's regiment a private soldier who was 
"placi" with a good-looking negress who took the 
officer's fancy, so the latter sent a sergeant to represent 


to the husband the desirability of his giving up his 
wife to his superior iu rank. This he did, and when 
this lady became Empress she did not forget him, and 
often sent him into the imperial kitchen to be sup- 
plied with a plentiful meal. Her child was adopted by 
Soulouque, and was afterwards called the "Princess 
Olive," a lady-like pleasant woman, who was popular 
with all who knew her. 

When ignorance ceased to govern, vanity appeared 
to follow. Judging after the events, it seems clear that 
General Geffrard might have avoided many of the dif- 
ficulties of his Presidency had he called good men to 
his councils and listened to their advice. He, however, 
would do all himself, and treated his Ministers as if 
they were but head-clerks. He really thought he knew 
more than any of those who surrounded him, and per- 
haps he did. 

The revolution was conducted with exemplary mo- 
deration, and the great and small plunderers of the 
preceding reign succeeded in securing their ill-gotten 
wealth ; for though the properties of certain persons 
were sequestrated, it had little practical effect. I have 
seen a trustworthy paper of the amounts taken by 
the Emperor and his followers, and they were so enor- 
mous as to surpass belief. 

Geffrard's difficulties were great, as he had to conci- 
liate the black party and appoint as Ministers certain 
foremost generals of that colour, and their ignorance 
and stupidity were almost beyond anything that can be 


conceived ; and this is the President's best excuse for 
having tried to govern himself. And yet the extreme 
section of the party was not satisfied, and soon after 
Geffrard's advent to power began to conspire against 
him, and to raise the cry that lie was about to sell the 
country to the whites. As soon as a coloured chief 
displays the slightest desire to modify any legislation 
hostile to foreigners, this cry is raised, and prevents 
many improvements. 

To show of what a negro conspirator is capable, I 
must enter into a few particulars of what was called 
the conspiracy of General Prophete. In September of 
1859, the year of Geffrard's advent to power, a section 
of the blacks determined to murder him. They knew 
that he was a most affectionate father, and accustomed 
to visit every evening Madame Blanfort, his newly- 
married daughter; they therefore laid an ambush for 
him behind a ruined wall that skirted the street that 
led to her house. The usual hour having passed for 
the evening visit, the conspirators began to fear that 
their project might fail that night and be discovered, 
so they moved quietly towards Madame Blanfort's 
residence, and looking through the window, saw the 
young bride seated reading, evidently awaiting her 
father's arrival. The conspirators held a hurried con- 
sultation, and decided to murder the daughter, in the 
expectation that Geffrard, on hearing of what had 
occurred, would rush out. They therefore returned to 
the window, and a negro named Sarron raised his 


blunderbuss, fired at the girl, and killed her on the 
spot. Geffrard heard the shot, and rushing to the palace 
door, would have fallen into the ambush had not some 
friends seized and detained him. 

Fortunately these conspirators were as stupid as they 
were brutal, and the whole of them were taken. The 
chief of the political conspiracy was allowed to depart, 
whilst the others, to the number of sixteen, were executed. 
It was stated at the time that too many suffered, but 
they were all equally guilty, for although all had not 
been consulted as to murdering the daughter, all meant 
to assassinate the father. These conspirators were most 
of them aides-de-camp to the President, and belonged 
to what are called the best families of the capital. 
What is a President to do with such people ? 

In ]\Iarch i860 a concordat was signed with the 
See of Eome, an account of which, as amended, is given 
in another chapter. In September there was a fresh 
conspiracy to murder Geffrard, in which a man named 
Florosin was implicated, and therefore the plot was 
called after him. In the following year Hayti reaped 
the fruit of her obstinacy in refusing to acknowledge 
the independence of the eastern province. Discouraged 
by the continual state of tension in their relations with 
the black republic, the Dominicans decided to return 
to their allegiance to Spain, and in March 1861 Santo 
Domingo was declared a Spanish colony, with the 
Dominican General Santana as first Governor-General. 
Geffrard thus found himself face to face with a new 


danger, as every question remained unsettled, including 
the important one of boundaries. 

The annexation to Spain had been brought about by 
Santana and his party, but was opposed by another 
faction, who crossed over into Hayti, and there being 
secretly furnished with arms and money by the autho- 
rities, invaded the Spanish colony and commenced a 
guerilla warfare. They were beaten, and twenty-one 
being taken, were summarily shot by Santana. 

Proofs having then been obtained of the coinplicity 
of the Haytian Government in this movement, Spain 
determined to punish these intermeddlers. A fleet 
was sent to Port-au-Prince, with orders to demand an 
indemnity of ;£'4o,ooo to be paid in forty-eight hours, 
and a salute, which was not to be returned. The 
money was not to be had at so short a notice, and the 
discontented blacks threatened to upset the Govern- 
ment and massacre the whites if a salute were fired first. 

At that time the chief representative of the foreign 
powers was Mr. Byron, our acting Consul-General, and 
on him fell the sole responsibility of effecting an 
amicable arrangement and preventing the threatened 
bombardment. He saw the Spanish Admiral Eubal- 
cava, of whom he ever spoke in the highest terms, 
explained the difficulties of Geifrard's position, and 
obtained important concessions — first, as to the pay- 
ment of the indemnity, which was ultimately reduced 
to ;£'5000, and, second, that the Haytian salute should 
be returned. He then went to the palace, smiled at 


their fears of the rabble, and gave the resolute advice 
to brave them and fire the salute. This was done, and 
all passed off as well as he had predicted. Throughout 
their history, the Haytians have been thus beholden 
to the agents of England and France. 

In November 1861, General Legros conspired 
to upset the Government, but these mild plotters were 
only banished or imprisoned. This abortive move- 
ment was followed (1862) by an attempted insurrec- 
tion of the Salomon family in the south. This conspi- 
racy, the third in which they were accused of being 
engaged, was a complete fiasco, but it cost the lives of 
fourteen of the plotters. 

One of the promises made by the new Government 
was a reform in the finances and a reduction of useless 
expenditure ; but Geffrard's incapable or corrupt Minis^ 
ters had not fulfilled that promise. The Chambers 
were naturally curious as to the disappearance of mil- 
lions of dollars (paper) without any explanation being 
forthcoming, and forced two incapables to resign, and 
General Dupuy, the Minister of Eiche, was summoned 
from London to take charge of the finances. He was 
a very intelligent man, quite worthy of the post, and 
his appointment inspired confidence; but the Opposi- 
tion in the Chambers continued their attacks on the 
Government, and at last Geffrard was forced to dis-r 
solve and order fresh elections. There can be no 
doubt that so many abuses were protected as to justify 
much discontent, but the Opposition might have beeii 


more moderate considering the difficulties of the situa- 
tion, the insurrection in the east against the Spaniards, 
and the continued conspiracies of the blacks. 

Geffrard and Dupuy were both anxious to modify 
Article 7 of the constitution, aimed against foreigners, 
but the proposition was so badjy received that it was 

Another rising (May 1 863) of the Legros family fol- 
lowed in Gonaives. As they had been the principal 
instruments of the revolution in favour of Geffrard, 
their defection can only be accounted for by unsatisfied 
ambition and the desire to secure the spoils of office. 
It failed, and eight were shot. 

In September 1863 Monseigneur Testard de Cosquer 
was named Archbishop of Port-au-Prince. He was one 
of the most agreeable men I have ever met, remarkably 
eloquent, and of fine presence; he did not, however, 
arrive at the capital until June of the following year. 
Disgusted with what was passing in his country, 
General Dupuy resigned his position as Minister of 
Finance and Foreign Affairs, and was succeeded by 
M. Auguste Elie, than whom a better choice could not 
have been made. 

The year 1864 was distinguished for its conspiracies. 
In May a Colonel Narcisse denounced four coloured 
men of the best position in the capital as being en- 
gaged in a plot. The proofs of an active conspiracy 
were wanting. As I have given details of the trial 
jn another chapter, I need only say that they were 


condemned to death, but their sentence was commuted 
at the intercession of the diplomatic corps. In July 
there was- a conspiracy at Cap Haitian by General 
Longuefosse, but the people not joining, he was taken 
and shot, with three of his companions. This was 
followed by another, in which Salnave, afterwards a 
revolutionary President of Hayti, first made liis appear- 
ance in rather an interesting manner. General Philip- 
peaux. Minister of War, had been sent by Geffrard 
to Cap Haitien to restore order after Longuefosse's 
abortive "plot, when a conspiracy was formed in an 
■artillery corps to murder Philippeaux, and Salnave was 
chosen to carry it into execution. One evening the 
Minister of War was sitting playing cards in a ver- 
andah, when Salnave, ensconced behind a neighbour- 
ing tree, raised Ids carbine and fired at him ; the ball 
struck Philippeaux above the temple and glanced off. 
Not even the solid skull of a black could have resisted 
the bullet, had not the Minister, at the moment when 
Salnave fired, slightly turned his head. 

I may notice that in 1865 Spain abandoned Santo 
Domingo, and the Dominican republic was restored. 
If ever the true history be written of that temporary 
resuscitation of a colony, Spaniards themselves will 
be astonished at the revelations of iniquity and fraud 
that brought about the revolution against them. 

The year 1865 was an unfortunate one for Hayti. 
First a great fire burnt down three hundred and fifty 
houses in the best part of the capital ; then there was 


a movement in the soutli ; then one in the north, where 
Sulnave, invading that department from Santo Domingo, 
found all ready to receive him. The regiments in the 
northern garrisons joined him or dispersed; but the 
rapid movement of Geffrard's troops under Generals 
Morisset and Barth^Iemy, both of whom were killed 
fighting, disconcerted the conspirators, and they were 
soon driven from the country districts and forced to 
take refuge in Cap Haitien. Had not many of the 
chiefs of Geffrard's army been traitors to his cause, the 
whole affair might have been over in a month. A 
siege commenced, which appeared likely to endure long, 
when an incident occurred which forced on foreign inter- 

Salnave was a bold, unscrupulous man, who had been 
put forward by some discontented deputies and others 
to do their work ; but his main reliance was on the mob. 
Those of Geffrard's friends who could not escape from 
the town took refuge with the Consuls, and the English 
and American naval officers had constantly to interfere, 
even by landing men to prevent the violation of the 
Consulates. Captain Heneage, of H.M.S. Lily, con- 
spicuously distinguished himself. At last Geffrard left 
the capital to command the army, but he found he could 
do little among his intriguing officers: he, however, 
certainly showed want of dash on this occasion. 

Then came the Bulldog incident. Captain "Wake 
had excited the ire of the insurgents by protecting a 
British vessel; and to show their anger, under the 


direction of Delorme, Salnave's principal adviser, they 
rushed down to our Consulate, and took by force 
certain persons who were under the protection of our 
flag. The Bulldog steamed into harbour to obtain 
redress, and ran aground. A combat ensued, and find- 
ing he could not get his vessel off. Captain Wake blew 
her up, and retired with the crew in his boats. 

All the persons taken from our Consulate had in 
the meantime been murdered. On hearing of these 
transactions, I went up in H.M.S. Galatea with the 
Lily, and being unable to obtain any adequate satis- 
faction, the outer forts were bombarded. Geffrard's 
army rushed in, and the insurrection was at an end. 
Salnave and his followers escaped in the United States 
ship Desoto, after leaving orders to burn down the 
town, which his men only partly effected. 

I may notice that the right of asylum under foreign 
flags is considered so sacred in Hayti, that it was once 
introduced as an article of the constitution. All parties 
are equally interested in its observance, as only thus 
can they hope to escape the first fury of their adver- 
saries, and give time for passions to cool. 

If 1865 was a disastrous year for Hayti, 1866 was 
worse. A great fire broke out in Port-au-Prince, and 
eight hundred houses are said to have been destroyed, 
I again noticed the apathy of the negroes, whether official 
or otherwise. They came and looked on, but did nothing 
either to check the flames or arrest the incendiaries. 
Whilst we were working to save our Legation from the 


fire, which was already scorching its walls, my porter 
called my attention to some negroes that had entered 
with torches ill concealed under their coats. I had 
to seize a revolver and hold it to a man's head before 
I could force them to retire. Had our brick house taken 
fire, they knew the rest of the town' must go. Few 
except the Europeans cared to exert themselves, and 
when they brought out a fire-engine, the mob instantly 
cut the hose and gave themselves up to pillage. The 
French chargi d! affaires asked a man why he did not 
assist in putting out a fire burning before him ? His 
answer was, " My house is already burned : why should 
I aid others ? " 

Geffrard could not but notice, in his opening speech 
to the Chambers, that the northern insurrection had 
created so great an expenditure that all progress was 
checked ; but it had no effect. Another effort at revolu- 
tion was made at Gonaives, where the mob plundered 
and burnt about fifty houses, to be followed by further 
troubles and incendiary fires at Cap Haitien, Port-au- 
Prince, and St. Marc. The arsenal in the capital was 
blown up in September; two hundred houses were 
overthrown, and the guard killed, besides many of the 
inhabitants. One little boy whom I knew had one of 
his ears taken off by a piece of shell without further 
injury. During these occurrences, bands of negroes 
were wandering through the south burning and pillag- 
ing, unchecked by the local authorities. It was asked, 
how could a people exist under such circumstances ? 


But people must eat ; the majority do not join in these 
disorders, and all the women and children work. The 
following years showed to what a country can submit 
from the perverse conduct of interested politicians. 

It was now evident that Geffrard must give up 
power, as, rightly or wrongly, people were dissatisfied 
with him, and wanted a change. In February 1867 
there was a hostile movement on the part of some com- 
panies of Geffrard's favourite troops, the tirailleurs, the 
only disciplined battalions that I ever saw in Hayti; 
and though this was suppressed by their companions, 
the Government was irretrievably shaken. The com- 
paratively bad provision crops of 1865 and 1866 were 
said to be the fault of the authorities, and no amnesties 
or changes in the Ministry could satisfy the discon- 
tented. Geffrard determined therefore to abdicate, and 
on March 13, 1867, he embarked for Jamaica. He had 
convoked the Senate for the i6th in order to give over 
the reins of power to them, but his timid friends per- 
suaded him to go at once, as the north was in insur- 
rection. The Spanish charg6 d'affaires was with him 
throughout these scenes, and Geffrard's last words were, 
" Poor country ! what a state of anarchy will follow my 
departure ! " 

In my chapter on the Mulattoes, I have given a 
sketch of Geffrard, and I need not repeat it here. I 
was not blind to his faults, but of all the rulers of 
Hayti, he was certainly the most enlightened, and the 
most thoroughly devoted to his country. Had he been 


as perfect a ruler as the world could produce, he 
would never have satisfied his countrymen. The blacks 
wanted a black, the mulattoes wanted any one else, so 
that there was a change. And yet I believe the mass 
of the people cared little except for tranquillity.^ 

A committee was formed to revise the constitution, 
but Salnave had landed in Cap Haitien, assumed power, 
and proceeded to exercise it. He arrested some chiefs 
of the negroes dwelling in the Black Mountains, and 
instantly shot them ; their friends took up arms, and, 
under the name of the " Cacos," were a thorn in 
the side of the new rdgime. He then marched on 
Port-au-Prince, seized the government, and arrested 
General Montas, who had commanded in the north 
under Geffrard. Tired of the delays of a Constituent 
Assembly, he sent a mob to frighten them. They took 
the hint, voted the constitution the next day, and, 
I'epie a la gorge, elected Salnave President of Hayti, 
June 1 6, 1867. In July a treaty was signed between 
Hayti and Santo Domingo, thus ending the long war. 

The Chambers met in the autumn, and Madame 
Montas presented a petition on the subject of the 
imprisonment of her husband. On some deputies in- 
sisting on an explanation, Delorme, the Chief Minis- 
ter of Salnave, sprang on the table and denounced 

1 During the next three years I held a most difficult position. 

Having by the action of our navy expelled Salnave and his partisans 

from Cap Haitien in 1865, they, on their return in 1867, treated me 

as their deadliest enemy. 



these deputies as enemies of Government. Pistol- 
shots were fired; Salnave advanced at the head of his 
guards, and the assembly dispersed. Eiots followed. 
The Government attempted to arrest five prominent 
members of the Opposition, but they escaped and re- 
turned home to their constituents, and constitutional 
government ceased to exist. Soon after General Montas 
died in prison, under most suspicious circumstances.^ 

The movement of the Cacos in the Black Mountains 
now began to alarm the Government, and Salnave 
started for the north to put himself at the head of the 
army operating against the insurgents. There were 
many skirmishes, that at Mombin Crochu being the 
most important, where Salnave lost heavily. 

I do not think it necessary to do more than briefly 
notice the events of Salnave's Presidency of thirty 
months. It was one- long civil war. Disgusted at the 
treatment of their deputies, the towns began to de- 
clare against the Government. The uprising was accele- 
rated by the meeting of the Chambers being postponed 
and Salnave being declared Dictator. In April 1868, 
Nissage-Saget took up arms in St. Marc; the south 
was in movement, and the insurgents marched towards 
the capital, where a crowd of young men armed with 
swordsticks and pocket-pistols made a feeble attempt 
at insurrection, but dispersed at the first fire. In the 

^ "lis passferent ensemble et discuterent c6te-?i-c6te la mort de 
Leon Montas, mort ^toufie, affirrae-t-on dans la prison du Cap." — Le 
Pevple, Avril 21, 1888. 


midst of this commotion Salnave came into the harbour 
with five hundred men, to whom he gave permission 
to plunder the Eue de Erontsforts, where the princi- 
pal retail dealers live. The phrase of their colonel on 
this occasion has become a proverb : " Mes enfans, 
pillez en bon ordre." Only the vigorous remonstrances 
of the diplomatic corps prevented further outrages. De- 
lorme, accused by Salnave of having shown weakness 
whilst in charge of the Government during his absence 
in the north, retired from office and left the country. 

The insurgent armies closed in round Port-au-Prince, 
but as the town did not capitulate at their martial 
aspect, they did nothing, whilst the garrison was only 
waiting for the excuse of an attack in order to disperse. 
This delay was fatal ; the chiefs, instead of confronting 
the common enemy, were quarrelling as to the choice 
of the future President, each thinfcng himself the most 
worthy, when the negroes of the mountains, encouraged 
by the Government, rose in arms to attack the towns, 
and forced the besieging army to retire to protect their 
own families and property. These bands of negroes, 
under the name of "Piquets," were only formidable 
from their numbers, but the destruction they committed 
in the south has not been repaired to this day. The 
insurgents raised the siege of the capital in August; 
and in September, to prevent further dissensions, Kis- 
sage-Saget was chosen President for the north at St. 
Marc, and Domingue at Les Cayes for the south. 

The year 1869 was the most disastrous I have 


known in Haytian history. Fighting was going on 
in every district. In the north the insurgents were 
besieging Cap Haitien ; in the south the Government 
was vainly attacking Jacmel, Jeremie, and Les Cayes. 
In the beginning of the year President Salnave had 
the advantage of commanding the seas with his 
steamers, and, surrounding Les Cayes on every side, 
he vigorously pressed the siege. When it was about 
to fall. General Monplaisir-Pierre assembled a small 
force, cut his way through the besieging army, and 
arrived just in time to save Domingue and his Govern- 
ment, who were preparing to embark for Jamaica. 
This was one of the few dashing actions of the war. 

Another was General Brice's splendid defence of 
J^remie when attacked by superior forces and bom- 
barded by vessels purchased by Salnave in America. 

In July 1869 the insurgents obtained a couple of 
steamers, and the aspect of the war changed. They 
were enabled thus to relieve the south by capturing 
the vessels that blockaded Les Cayes ; and then, 
returning north, excited the fears of the Government 
partisans. Gonaives surrendered to the insurgents 
under conditions, and General Chevalier arrived with 
its garrison to increase the confusion at the capital. 
The Ministry resigned under his tlireats, and only the 
sudden arrival of Salnave from the south prevented 
Chevalier from usurping his place. 

From this time forward the fortunes of Salnave 
paled. Cap Haitien surrendered to the insurgents; 


the President's army under Chevalier besieging Jacmel 
went over to the enemy; and suddenly, on the i^th 
December 1870, the insurgents made the most gallant 
dash of the whole war. Before daylight, two vessels 
laden with troops steamed quietly into the harbour, 
surprised a new gunboat belonging to the Government, 
and then immediately landed about a thousand men. 
The leaders of this expedition were Generals , Brice 
and Boisrond-Canal. It was a splendid coup, as Sal- 
nave's garrison consisted of over three thousand soldiers. 
Some sharp fighting occurred, and the insurgents could 
just hold their own, when General Turenne-Carrid 
arrived by land with strong reinforcements, and ren- 
dered the combat more equal. 

Whilst the fighting was going on, an urgent appeal 
was made by the chiefs of both parties to the diploma- 
tie corps to interfere and try to save the town, which 
was menaced with destruction. The representatives of 
France, England, and the United States therefore went 
to the palace, but could do no more than effect a truce 
till the next morning. 

Salnave, however, hoping to take his enemies off 
their guard during this truce, made a sudden onslaught 
on them ; but after about two hours' fighting, his men 
were repulsed with heavy loss. Early in the morning, 
the gunboat that had been surprised in harbour opened 
fire upon the palace under the direction of the in- 
surgents, and its heavy shell falling in the courtyard 
-began to disperse the garrison, when another pitched 


on the main building, ignited a small powder-magazine, 
and a severe explosion took place. As great stores of 
powder existed in the burning palace, every one near 
fled. Salnave and his troops retired to the moiintains 
via La Coupe, and soon after another terrific explosion 
shook the town, followed by one still more severe. 
Fortunately the fire did not reach the great magazine, 
or few houses would have resisted the concussion. 

Before leaving, Salnave ordered fire to be set to the 
capital to retard pursuit. Our men were disembarked 
from H.M.S. Defence under the present Admiral, Noel 
Salmon, and greatly contributed to prevent the spread 
of the flames ; but it was calculated that at least a 
thousand houses and huts were destroyed. 

I have passed rapidly over the events of this year, 
but it was certainly the most trying I have ever known. 
The diplomatic corps was continually forced to inter- 
fere to check the arbitrary conduct of the authorities, 
who seized our ships, arrested our subjects, insulted 
us in the streets, and to awe the disaffected employed 
bands of villanous negroes and negresses to parade 
the town, who murdered those selected by their 
enemies, wantonly killing a young Frenchman and 
many others. 

Nothing was safe from them, neither our mail-bags 
nor our property. Fortunately we were well supported 
by our naval of&cers, and we were thoroughly well 
backed by the French marine. Admii-al Mequet and 
Captain De Varannes of the D'Estres were con- 


spicuous for their friendly feeling ; and as Admiral 
Phillimore was at that time commodore in Jamaica, 
the English were sure of receiving all the support that 
it was in his power to give. I think we owed our lives 
to the aid we received from the presence of our ships, 
commanded by Captains Kelly, M'Crea, Glynn, Murray 
Aynesley, Carnegie, Lowther, Hunter, Alington, and 
many others. 

I may conclude my account of Salnave by saying 
that he attempted to reach Santo Domingo city, but 
was stopped on the frontiers by the Dominican insur- 
gent Cabral, who took him and his followers prisoners, 
and sent them to Port-au-Prince. Six chiefs were shot 
as insurgents taken with arms in their hands, whilst 
Salnave was brought into the capital, tried by a mili- 
tary commission under General Lorquet, condemned 
to death for incendiarism and murder, and shot that 
same evening at sunset. He behaved with consider- 
able coolness and calmness, and when he heard the 
sentence pronounced, asked for a quarter of an hour's 
respite, and then wrote his wishes as to the disposition 
of his property, and a few words to his family. 

Salnave was in every respect unfitted to be a ruler ; 
he was ignorant, debauched, and cruel; loved to be 
surrounded by the lowest of the low, who turned the 
palace into a rendezvous where the scum of the negresses 
assembled to dance and drink, so that no respectable 
person ever willingly entered it. He attended the 
meetings of the Vaudoux, and is accused of joining in 


their greatest excesses. He first brought himself pro- 
minently forward by attempting to murder General 
Philippeaux, and during his Presidency shot his enemies 
without mercy. I do not think that he had a redeem- 
ing quality, except a certain amount of determination, 
ond perhaps bravery, though he was never known to 
expose himself to personal danger. 

General Nissage - Saget was elected President of 
Hayti on the 19th March 1870, and four years of peace 
followed. The country was so exhausted by the long 
civil war, that although there was some discontent 
among the followers of Salnave and the extreme black 
party, no movement had a chance of success. The 
Chambers occasionally quarrelled with the executive, 
but their title to esteem rests on their efforts to restore 
the currency. They decided to withdraw the depre- 
ciated paper notes and introduce silver dollars, and in 
this they completely succeeded. It caused some suffer- 
ing at first, but on the whole it was a sound measure, 
wisely carried out. 

Nissage-Saget, though incapable in many respects, 
generally adhered to the constitution. However, in 1872 
he created some commotion by pardoning all political 
prisoners at the demand of the army, though legally 
such a measure required the previous assent of the 
Chambers ; but Hay tians like their Presidents to show 

In 1873 there was a formal qiiarrel in the Chambers 
which led to all the subsequent disasters. A question 


arose as to the validity of the election of Boyer- 
Bazekis, deputy for Port-au-Prince. It was decided in 
his favour by forty-four to twenty-one, upon which the 
minority retired, and left the House without a quorum, 
As the Government sided with the minority, no steps 
"were taiven to fill vacancies, but a session was called 
for the month of July. 

The real question at issue was a serious one. The 
Opposition wished to elect as the next President Gene- 
ral Monplaisir-Pierre, a respectable black, whilst the 
Government favoured General Domingue, an igno- 
rant and ferocious negro, born in Africa, whose party 
had rendered itself notorious by the massacre of all 
the political prisoners confined in the jail in Les Cayes 
in 1869. 

The Senate and Chambers met in July, and it was 
evident that a great majority were hostile to the 
Government. Boyer-Bazelais, rendered imprudent by 
the strong party he led, passed a vote of want of 
confidence in two Ministers, and refused to receive 
their Budgets, upon which the President adjourned the 
session to April 1874. He did this to prevent the 
public discussion of the scandalous jobbery of his Mini- 
sters and to aid Domingue in his candidature. 

When the Congress met in April 1 874, there was no 
doubt as to the feeling of the people being hostile to 
Dominigue and his nephew, Septimus Eameau, the most 
grasping and unpopular jobber that the country had 
ever seen. The Government had used all its influence 


and had employed the military to support Domingue 
candidates, but in spite of this pressure his opponents 
had been returned. But the Government persevered, 
and Nissage retired May 15, handing over power to 
a Council of Ministers that named Domingue com- 
mander-in-chief. A Constituent Assembly was called 
for June 10, which was q^uite unconstitutional, and 
under violent military pressure Government nomi- 
nees were chosen, who unanimously elected General 
Domingue President of Hayti. 

As soon as this Government was in power, it was 
clearly seen that all the constitutional leaders had 
better go into exile, as their death was certain if they 
remained. Many prudently retired to the neighbouring 
islands, but the three gallant leaders of the war against 
Salnave, Monplaisir-Pierre, Brice, and Boisrond-Canal 
remained, and turned their attention to industrial 
pursuits. I could not but warn Brice that I knew for 
certain that if they remained they would fall victims, 
but they had a better opinion of their rulers than I 

Naturally a new constitution was voted, by which 
the President was chosen for eight years ; the Senate 
was to be selected from a list sent in to Government ; 
the executive had power to dissolve the Chambers and 
to establish a Council of State to aid the Government. 
Power was also given for one year to change the judges 
and magistrates, thus to fill the bench with their own 


The Government was not slow to show its intentions. 
The first was to endeavour to render the residence of 
foreigners impossible by passing a law of license to 
trade which would have been prohibitive ; but through 
the interference of the diplomatic corps the application 
of this law was postponed. At the head of the Ministry 
was Domingue's nephew, Septimus Eameau, who con- 
sidered that " the whites had no rights which the blacks 
were bou'nd to respect." His own friends had foretold 
an age of peace and enlightenment when Septimus came 
to power, but of all the narrow-minded negroes with 
vast pretensions to superiority, none equalled this man. 
As a rule, the abler a negro is, the more wicked and 
corrupt he appears. But we could never discover this 
much-vaunted ability, though the wickedness and cor- 
ruption were manifest to all. 

The only wise act by which Domingue's Govern- 
ment will be known was the signing of a treaty of 
peace, friendship, and commerce with Santo Domingo ; 
and this was brought about by English aid, which 
smoothed down the difficulties raised by the intolerable 
pretensions of the Haytian Ministers. 

As usual, when there was political discontent, the 
year 1875 was ushered in by a great fire at Port-au- 
Prince. On May i, taking advantage of an assembly of 
troops to celebrate the " Fete de V Agriculture," Eameau 
ordered an attack to be made on the three rivals he 
most feared. General Brice was sitting writing in his 
office when the soldiers sent to murder him appeared ; 


bis bravery, however, was so well known, tbat tbey 
dreaded to approach bim, but firing at a distance, gave 
bim time to seize bis arms and defend bunself. But 
having only revolvers, he thought it prudent to en- 
deavour to take refuge in the English Legation. He 
was wounded fatally in doing so, and died, notwith- 
standing the care bestowed upon bim by the Spanish 
Consul Lopez and his wife, who were then residing 

Monplaisir- Pierre was also attacked in his own house, 
but being better armed, he made a long defence ; he 
killed seventeen soldiers, wounded thirty-two, mostly 
mortally, and could only be subdued by the employ- 
ment of artillery. Then finding he could do no more, 
as, severely wounded, it was not possible to escape, he 
put an end to his existence. General Lorquet com- 
manded this attack of the garrison of Port-au-Prince 
on two veritable heroes. 

The third destined to death by the Government was 
Boisrond-Canal. Whilst defending himself Brice had 
thought of his friend, and had sent his clerk to warn 
him of his danger. On the approach of the soldiers he 
and his friends readily put them to flight, but then 
were forced to disperse. Canal taking refuge with the 
American Minister, Mr. Bassett, who, after five months 
of tedious correspondence, was enabled to embark him 
in safety. 

Decrees followed banishing forty-three eminent citi- 
zens, and later on seventeen were condemned to death 


for a pretended conspiracy. Thus Eameau thought to 
clear the country of his enemies or rivals. 

The Government finding that the amount received in 
taxes would not satisfy their cupidity, decided to raise 
a loan in Paris of about ;^2,Soo,ooo. The history of 
this scandalous transaction is about the worst of its 
kind. A portion of the money was raised and divided 
among the friends of the Government; but the details 
are not worth recording. 

The murder of Brice and Monplaisir-Pierre made 
a profound impression on the country, as it justified 
all previous apprehensions; and the conduct of the 
Government was such, that it appeared as if it were 
guided by a madman. Decrees against the trade 
carried on by foreigners, hatred of the whites shown 
by Domingue, Eameau, and Boco, then insults in the 
ofiBcial journal, in which even foreign agents were not 
spared, followed by the illegal expulsion of Cuban 
refugees, at length roused the country, and a general 
movement commenced. 

Domingue and Eameau were furious : an order was 
given to murder all the political prisoners confined in 
the prison, but the chief jailer escaped with them to a 
Legation, and leaving the gates open, three hundred 
and fifty malefactors got away at the same time. Then 
the Government tried to rouse the masses, and issued 
orders to fire the town and pillage it, and murder the 
whites and coloured; but even the lowest negroes 
felt that these were the decrees of a madman. Find- 


ing that the Government cpuld not hold its own in 
Port-au-Prince, Eameau determined to retire to Les 
Cayes; but being unwilling to leave behind him the 
money destined to form the capital of a National Bank, 
he sent it down to the wharf to be embarked. This 
at length roused the population, and a tumult ensued. 
Abandoned by all, Domingue abdicated, and the French 
Minister De Verges and the Spanish Consul Lopez 
went to the palace to try and save the President and 
his Chief Minister. The crowd was large and threat- 
ening, but the two brave diplomats took these despi- 
cable chiefs under their protection and endeavoured to 
escort them to the French Legation; but the crowd 
was so excited against these murderers, that Eameau 
was killed in the streets and Domingue was seriously 

Geheral Lorquet had been sent at the head of a force 
to check the advance of the northern insurgents ; but, 
as might have been expected, he joined them and 
marched at their head to take possession of the Govern- 
ment. But no sooner had he entered the town than a 
murmur arose. The friends of those whom he had 
murdered, as Monplaisir-Pierre, Brice, and Chevalier, 
began to collect. Lorquet fled to his house, but was 
pursued and attacked, and killed whilst trying to hide 
in a closet. 

Thus fell the very worst Government that even Hayti 
had ever seen. Cruel and dishonest, it had not a re- 
deeming quality. Domingue, brutal and ignorant, was 


entirely dominated by his nephew, Septimus Eameau, 
whose conduct has been only excused by his friends on 
the ground of insanity. There was too much method in 
his madness for that plea to be accepted. His hatred 
of foreigners may be partly accounted for by his being 
a member of the Vaudoux ; it is even asserted that he 
was a Papaloi or priest of the sect. 

When Domingue fell there was a struggle for the 
succession between Boisrond-Canal and Boyer-Bazelais, 
but the former was preferred on account of his energy 
and courage. He had a difficult task, as the dilapida- 
tions of the late Government had ruined the finances, 
and France insisted that the Domingue loan should 
be recognised before she would acknowledge the new 

Boyer-Bazelais, although, like Boisrond-Canal, a man 
of colour, bitterly resented his rival being chosen 
President, and created every difficulty possible for the 
new Government. These events, however, are too 
recent for me to dwell on them. I may, however, 
notice that the principal attention of both Govern- 
ment and Opposition was directed to the finances, and 
that in 1879 the French Government forced Hayti to 
acknowledge the Domingue loan. 

In July 1879 a disturbance took place in the House 
of Eepresentatives, and it was adjourned amidst much 
tumult. Boyer-Bazelais and his party retired to his 
house and took up arms, they said, to defend them- 
selves. Their opponents attacked them, and a desperate 


fight ensued. Fire was put to the adjoining houses, 
and amidst this fierce conflict our acting Consul- 
General Byron and the French Chancellor Huttinot 
intervened, and at the greatest personal risk rescued 
the ladies from the burning houses and took them to 
a place of safety. A sauve qui pent soon followed, 
and Boyer-Bazelais' party was dispersed with heavy 
loss, two of his brothers being killed in the fight. 

The insane ambition of what was called the Liberal 
party thus ruined the most honest Government that 
Hayti had seen since the days of Boyer., These dis- 
orders in the capital were followed by others in the 
provinces; and Boisrond-Canal, disgusted with the treat- 
ment he had received from those who should have 
supported him, resigned, and left the country with his 
chief Ministers, July 17, 1879. Great sympathy was 
shown him by the people, who cheered him as he left 
the wharf. As usual, he was embarked by a foreign 
officer, Commander Alington of H.M.S. Bcxer. What 
would these exiled Presidents do without the foreign 
element ? 

Boisrond-Canal, though not a brilliant ruler, was 
thoroughly honest, and if. he had been supported instead 
of being opposed by the Liberal party, his four years' 
Presidency would have been a happy one. His coloured 
opponents used to call him a. patate or sweet potato — in 
fact, a King Log. They soon had a chance of comparing 
his Government with that of a King Stork. 

Boyer-Bazelais' party now thought that they would 


have all their own way, but they soon found that the 
country would have none of them. The blacks were 
again in the ascendant, and after some feeble attempts 
at revolution, the Liberal chiefs had to take the path of 
exile, and be thankful that it was no worse. 

The mob of Port-au-Prince, wearied by the long 
debates, forced the Assembly to close its discussions, 
and General Salomon was elected President of Hayti, 
October 23, 1879, and in December of the same year a 
twelfth constitution was promulgated, by which the 
chief of the state was chosen for seven years. 

Illegal military executions, murder, and pillage, en- 
couraged by the authorities, were the principal episodes 
of the history of the next few years. 

After reading this narrative, can we be surprised at 
the mot of a distinguished English diplomatist. Sir 
Charles Wyke, once banished to Port-au-Prince ? 
Walking up and down the filthy wharfs, he was heard 
to exclaim, " Confound Christopher Columbus ! if he 
had not discovered America, I should not have been 

( 130 ) 



The amount of the population in Hayti is not accu- 
rately known, as no census has been taken since the 
country became independent. At the close of the 
last century the inhabitants were found to consist of — 

Whites 46,000 

Freedmen, black and coloured . . . 56,666 
Slaves of both colours . . . . 3091642 


In giving these figures, Mr. Madiou adds ("Histoire 
d'Haiti," vol. i. p. 29) that the planters, in order not 
to have to pay the full capitation-tax, omitted from 
their return of slaves all the children, as well as those 
over forty-five years of age, so that at least 200,000 
should be added to those in servitude, among whom 
were 15,000 coloured of both sexes. Up to 1847 
Mr. Madiou considered that the population had neither 
increased nor decreased. Deducting the whites, there 
would remain about 750,000. 

Mr. Mackenzie, in his "Notes on Hayti," voL ii., 
discusses the question of population, but the tables he 


inserts ia his work vary so greatly tliat no reliance 
can be placed on them. In one, the population in 
1824 of the French portion of the island is stated to be 
351,716; in another, given in fnll detail as to each 
district, it is put at 873,867, whilst he adds that 
Piacide Justin had previously estimated the population 
at 700,000, and General Borgella, a good authority, 
stated it at a million. It is evident that no one had 
very precise data on which to found an estimate. 

During tlie struggle between the French and the 
coloured races, the whole of the whites were either 
driven out of the country or killed, and some slaves 
were exported to Cuba and the United States. What 
remained, therefore, of the two other sections consti- 
tuted the population of the empire of Dessalines. 

During the Presidency of General Geffrard (1863), 
I heard him remark, that, from the best official infor- 
mation he could obtain, the population had increased to 
over 900,000. This estimate must be largely founded 
on conjecture. The negro race is undoubtedly prolific, 
and in a hundred years ought to have more than 
doubled — nay, in so fertile a country, with unlimited 
supplies of food, more than quadrupled its population. 
The losses during the war of independence were con- 
siderable, as there was no mercy shown by either side, 
and the sanguinary strife lasted many years. The 
long civil war between Potion and Christophe was 
kept up during the whole reign of the latter, but 
probably did not cost the country so many lives as 


the building of the great mountain-fortress of La 
Ferriere and the handsome palace of Sans Souci. Dur- 
ing the Presidency of Boyer, lasting twenty-five years, 
there was peace, and ample time was given for the 
population to make up for all previous losses ; but after 
his departure came the wars with Santo Domingo and 
civil strife. 

All these causes, however, would only have slightly 
checked population. If you ask a Haytian how it 
is that his country remains comparatively so thinly 
peopled, he will answer that the negresses take but 
little care of their children, and that at least two- 
thirds die in infancy. After reading tlie chapter on 
Vaudoux-worship and cannibalism, I fear some of my 
readers may come to another conclusion. I cannot, 
however, think that these fearful excesses can be car- 
ried to the extent of greatly checking the increase of 
population. That the negresses are careless mothers 
is highly possible, and in the interior there are few, if 
any, medical men to whom they can apply in case of 

After carefully examining every document on the 
subject which came before me, and noting the state 
of those portions of the country through which I have 
passed, and comparing all the information I received 
during my twelve years' stay, I have come to the 
conclusion that the population has greatly increased, 
probably doubled, since 1825. All the old residents 
appear to be of the opinion that the Haytian is lazier 


thaa ever, and many intelligent natives decidedly hold 
that view ; and yet we find that the exports and imports 
have doubled in quantity during this period, which 
can only be accounted for by a very great increase in 
the population. It is possible, however, that the aug- 
mentation is much less than it should have been. 

Either on account of losses from warlike operations, 
or more probably by diseases produced from the greater 
excesses of the men, the female population is much 
larger than that of the male. Some go so far as to say 
there are three women to one man ; others, two-thirds 
females. I am myself inclined to fix it at about three- 
fifths. The great disproportion in the amount of the 
women has often been observed among the negro tribes 
on the coast of Guinea. In Hayti there is no emigra- 
tion to account for the disproportion ; in fact, the move- 
ment of population has been the other way, and many 
male recruits arrive from the United States and the 
European colonies in the West Indies. 

The population is generally supposed to consist of 
at least nine-tenths black to one-tenth coloured, and 
that the coloured is decidedly more and more approach- 
ing the black type. It is natural that, continually 
breeding in and in, they should gradually assimilate to 
the more numerous race. As a rule, the coloured popu- 
lation may be said to reside chiefly in the towns and 

Mackenzie speaks of some Maroon negroes who lived 
in the mountains near La Selle in the south-eastern 


distiict of Hayti, and held no intercourse ■with the 
other inhabitants, but fled at their approach. They 
•were doubtless the descendants of fugitive slaves. 
When vce paid a visit to tlie mountain above referred 
to, we heard tlie peasantry speaking of these people, 
but it appeared more of a tradition than an ascertained 
fact. They call them the Vien-viennent, from their 
cry on seeing strangers. Trom what is told of their 
being seen in the deep woods at midnight dancing and 
going through certain ceremonies, it is probable that 
these strange people were only sectaries of the Vau- 
doux-worship practising their African rites. 

The vexed question as to the position held by the 
negroes in the great scheme of nature was continually 
brought before us whilst I lived in Hayti, and I could 
not but regret to find that the greater my experience 
the less I thought of the capacity of the negro to hold 
.in independent position. As long as he is influenced by 
contact with the white man, as in the southern portion 
of the United States, he gets on very well. But place 
him free from all such influence, as in Hayti, and he 
shows no signs of improvement ; on the contrary, he is 
gradually retrograding to the African tribal customs, 
and without exterior pressure will fall into the state 
of the inhabitants on the Congo. If this were only my 
own opinion, I should hesitate to express it so positively, 
but I have found no dissident voice amongst experienced 
residents since I first went to Hayti in January 1863, 

I now agree with those who deny that the negro 


could ever originate a civilisation, and that with the 
best of educations he remains an inferior type of man. 
He has as yet shown himself totally unfitted for self- 
government, and incapable as a people to make any 
progi'ess whatever.' To judge the negroes fairly, one 
must live a considerable time in their midst, and not 
be led away by the theory that all races are capable 
of equal advance in civilisation. 

The mulattoes have no doubt far superior intelli- 
gence, and show greater capacity for government, but 
as yet they have had no marked success. It is pitiable 
to read their history, and see how they are almost ever 
swayed by the meanest impulses of personal interest 
and ambition, and how seldom they act from patriotic 
motives. During the twenty-six years which have 
elapsed since I first became acquainted with the 
country, what a dreary succession of meaningless con- 
spiracies, from the abortive attempt of General Legros 
in 1863, to the disastrous civil strife between two 
sections of the mulatto party, led by Boisrond-Canal 
and Boyer-Bazelais, when the latter completed the ruin 
of those of his own colour, and let in their enemies, the 
worst of the blacks, who had dreamed for twenty years 
of their extermination (1879). 

Scarcely one of these plots and insurrections, by which 
the country has been bathed in blood, but was founded 
on the hope of office and the consequent spoils. The 
thoughts of the conspirators are concentrated on the 
treasurv and the division of its contents. " Prendre 


I'argent de I'etat ce n'est pas vole," is the motto of all 
parties, of every shade of colour. 

Politically speaking, the Haytians are a hopeless 
people, and the most intelligent and best educated 
among them are more and more inclined to despair of 
the future of their country when they see the wreck 
that follows each wave of barbarism which every few 
years passes over their republic. President Geffrard, 
on going into exile in 1867, remarked to my Spanish 
colleague, that, putting aside all personal feelings and 
regrets, he could only foresee for his country a disas- 
trous series of convulsions. He spoke prophetically ; 
for Hayti has never recovered from the effects of the 
civil war which followed his expulsion, and he must 
have observed, from his secure retreat in Jamaica, how 
the leaders of every section of his enemies were, one 
by one, executed, killed in battle, or sent into exile. 

I will now attempt to examine some characteristic 
traits of the Haytian negro and mulatto. 


A French admiral once asked me, " Est-ce que vous 
prenez ces gens au s^rieux ? " And at first sight it is 
impossible to do so in Hayti ; but after the eye becomes 
used to the grotesque, the study of the people is both 
interesting and instructive. To a foreigner accustomed 
to regard the negro as he is depicted by our latest 
travellers, a half-naked savage, brutal and brute-like. 


it is not possible to contemplate as otherwise than 
incongruous a black general with heavy gold epaulettes 
and gorgeous uniform galloping on a bedizened steed, 
surrounded by a staff as richly apparelled, and fol- 
lowed by an escort of as ragged a soldiery as ever 
Falstaff was ashamed to march with. The awkward 
figure, the heavy face, the bullet head, the uncouth 
features, the cunning blood-shot eyes, seen under the 
shade of a French officer's cocked hat, raise the hilarity 
of the newcomer, which is not lessened when he dis- 
covers that this wretched imitation of a soldier declares 
himself the most warlike of a warlike race. But put- 
ting aside the absurdities which appear inherent to the 
blacks, you soon discover that there is something sym- 
pathetic in that stolid being. 

In treating of the Haytians, one must carefully sepa- 
rate the lower-class negro as he appears in a large 
commercial town from the black who lives in the plains 
or mountains. The former, brought into constant con- 
tact with the roughest of the white race, as represented 
by an inferior class of merchant seamen, is too often 
insolent and dishonest, whilst the countryman, who only 
sees a select few of the whites, appears to have an innate 
idea of their superiority, and almost always treats them 
with respect and deference, and with a hospitality and 
kindness wliich is not found in the cities.^ 

^ There is a, law in Hayti that no peasant may enter the town 
except on market-days, or to fulfil his military duties. A brea«h of 
this law may send him to prison. 


Whilst the civilised Haytian is essentially inhospi- 
table towards foreigners, the contrary is sometimes the 
case among the country population. They have the 
virtues as well as the vices of wild races ; and although 
their long intercourse with their more civilised com- 
patriots has given them a species of Prench varnish, 
yet they are essentially an African people removed 
from their parent country. 

Circumstances, however, have naturally modified their 
character. After the departure of the French, their 
estates ultimately fell into the hands of the coloured 
freedmen and enfranchised slaves. Many of the latter 
squatted among the coffee plantations, regardless of the 
nominal proprietor, and there gathered, and sold the 
crops without paying much attention to the rights of 
the owner. With the thirst, however, to he the real 
possessor of the land, so characteristic of all peasantry, 
as soon as the negro acquired a little capital from savings, 
his first thought was turned to secure the tenure of his 
household, and in many parts the land has been mor- 
selled out amonsr them. President Petion encouraged 
this system by the action of Government. 

The popular stories current in Hayti of the dif- 
ference between the races that inhabit it are rather 
characteristic. It is said that a white man, a mulatto, 
and a negro were once admitted into the presence of 
the Giver of all good gifts, and were asked what they 
wished to possess. The first-named desired to acquire 
a knowledge of the arts and sciences ; the second 


limited his pretensions to fine horses and beautiful 
■women ; the third, on being asked, shuiSed about and 
said that he had been brought there by tlie mulatto, 
but being pressed to answer, replied he should like a 
bit of gold lace. 

They say again, Mark the difference of the three 
when arrested and thrown into prison : the white man 
demands paper and ink in order to draw up a protest ; 
the second looks about for the means of escape; whilst 
the third lies down and sleeps twenty-four liours at a 
stretch ; then waking up, he grumbles a little, but soon 
turns on the other side and sleeps a second twenty-four 

Another curious saying among them is : — 

" Nfegue riche li miilatte, 
Mulatte pauvre li iiegue.'' 

These trifles indicate the opinion the different sections 
of the people have of eacli other, and there is much 
truth in the estimation. 

The politeness of the country negro is very remark- 
able, and you hear one ragged fellow addressing another 
as monsieur, fr^re, or compere ; and this civility is very 
pleasing, as it gives promise of better things whenever 
education sliall be extended to the country population. 

The town negro rarely, however, equals the peasant 
in manners, though among each other there is not much 
left to be desired. Both classes, at the same time, are 
infinitely superior in this respect to our colonial 


negroes, who are in Port-au-Prince proverbial for their 

Every one who mixes in Haytian society is struck by 
the paucity of black gentlemen to be met with at balls, 
concerts, or the theatre, and the almost total absence 
of black ladies. At some of the largest parties given 
by the late President Geffrard, I have counted but three 
black ladies to perhaps a hundred coloured; and although 
the gentlemen were more numerous, it was evident that 
their presence arose from their official positions, and not 
from a desire to mix with the society. 

There is a marked line drawn between the black 

and the mulatto, which is proba bly the most disastrous 
circumstance for th e future prosperity of the coun trj. 
A faithful historian, after carefully studying past events, 
can come to no other conclusion than that the low 
state of civilisation which still obtains in the island 
arises principally from this unmeaning quarrel . The 
black hates the mulatto, the mulatto despises the 
black ; proscriptions, j udicial murders, massacres have 
arisen, and will continue to arise as long as this 
deplorable feeling prevails. There is no sign of its 
abatement ; on the contrary, never was it so marked as 
at the present day. A black Minister once said to 
me, "We blacks and whites like and respect each 
other, because we are of pure race, but as for those 

mulattoes " 

I remember, on my arrival in Port-au-Prince in 1863, 
having a conversation with a young mulatto lady, no 


longer in the freshness of youth, on the subject of 
intermarriage ; and having faintly indicated that I 
thought she had been unwise in refusing the hand of 
one of the best-mannered, best-educated, and richest 
blacks in the country, I received a reply which com- 
pletely surprised me, " Sir, you insult me to imagine I 
■would marry a black. No, I will never marry any one 
but a white." I soothed her as well as I could, but 
looking at her faded charms, her unhealthy-looking 
skin, and her heavy under-jaw, I thought with reason 
that she might wait long ; and, poor girl, she waited in 
vain till death released her. 

This contempt of the black is felt by nearly every 
coloured girl, and is bitterly resented. I have seen 
young mulatto women refusing to dance with blacks 
at a ball, and the latter, in fury, threatening to call out 
the father or brother of the offending beauty. Yet 
\yhat can be more absurd that such a pretension or 
prejudice, when, but two generations removed, their 
mothers were African slaves ! I have heard coloured 
women talking about their families and their aristo- 
cratic connections, when I have known that in a back- 
room, slowly fading away, was some black " mamselle," 
the grandmother of the proud beauties. 

The blacks naturally feel and resent this childish 
insolence, and when they get the upper hand, as in the 
time of Soulouque and Salomon, they unfortunately 
quench in blood their outraged feelings. 

Towards the white man, whatever jealousy he may 


feel on account of former political questions, the blagk 
is usually both respectful and cordia l, and in return is 
liked by them. I heard a black magistrate say, " My 
father came from Africa. He was apparently a respect- 
able man in the kingdom of Congo, because he was not 
only treated with distinction by his countrymen on 
board the slaver, but on landing was taken into confi- 
dence by a white planter, who ultimately made him his 
partner. That is the history of my family." Certainly 
as respectable as any other in Hayti; 

Notwithstanding all the interested denials of the 
mulattoes, there is no doubt but that the lower-class 
negro, in particular, respects the white man as a superior 
being, and therefore respects his religion as superior 
to his own; but, as I shall show in my chapter on 
the Vaudoux, although he follows the white man's re- 
ligion to a certain extent, he does not in consequence 
forsake his serpent-worship, which appeals to his 
traditions, to the Africa of his nursery-tales, and, above 
all, to his pleasures and his passions. The Vaudoux 
priest encourages lascivious dancing, copious drinking, 
and the indiscriminate intercourse of the sexes, but he 
at the same time inculcates the burning of candles in 
the Eoman Catholic churches. He keeps a serpent in 
a box in his temple, whilst the walls are covered with 
the pictures of the Virgin Mary and the saints. 'No 
other brain but that of a negro could accept such a 
juxtaposition of opposing beliefs. 

Occasionally a negro will say to a white in an in- 


Solent manner, "Nous sommes tous dgaux ici;" b,ut 
he does not believe it, and shows he does not believe 
it by soon sneaking away with his invariable oath, 

"F ." The crowd may grunt acquiescence, and 

though they may appear amused by the fellow's insol- 
ence, they are still more amused by his slinking off. 
Burton, speaking of the people on the coast pf, Arica, 
says that a negro will obey a white man more readily 
than a mulatto, and a mulatto more so than one of his 
own colour. 

Among the black gentlemen you find some of polished 
manners and cultivated minds, as my friend Alexander 
Delva and the late M. Paul, or a genial companion 
like Lubin, the son-in-law of the late Emperor Sou- 
louque. Yet, notwithstanding these exceptions, and 
the more remarkable ones I have noticed in my his- 
torical chapters, there can be no doubt that the blacks 
have not yet arrived at that state of civilisation which 
would enable one to compare them favourably with any 
other civilised race, or to say that they are competent 
to govern a country. 

During the reign of Soulouque, Chancellor Delva 
and General Salomon were considered great statesmen, 
but between them they managed to exhaust the country, 
and no monument remains of their rule. Bat when an 
example is required of a man who applies his of&cial 
position to his own benefit, it is said, " He will become 
as rich as Chancellor Delva." 

Another negro who was expected by his own party 


to show himself a great statesman was Septimus 
Eameau, of Les Cayes. i When, however, he obtained 
unlimited power under his doting uncle, President 
Domingue, he proved himself a mere visionary, incap- 
able of a single sensible measure, and turning every 
^project into a fresh means of plundering the State. 
Whilst the people were sinking daily into greater 
poverty, and the public service was starved for want 
of funds, he ordered an expensive Pantheon to be con- 
structed, in which should be erected statues to Hayti's 
famous men ; and for fear posterity should be oblivious 
of his own merits, he ordered a statue of himself, which, 
however, was never erected, as before it arrived he had, 
by a violent death, paid the penalty of his crimes. 

During my twelve years' residence in Hayti, no black 
statesman appeared who was capable of managing with 
credit any important official position, with the exception 
of General Lamothe, a talented and agreeable man ; but 
I fear that the charity which beings at home so pre- 
dominated in him, that the interests of his country 
were sometimes forgotten. 

Though very unwilling to meet death on the field of 
battle when a loophole to escape is at hand, yet no one 
faces it more courageously than the Haytian, both black 
and coloured, when at the place of execution. He 
stands dauntless before the trembling soldiers, who, 
shutting their eyes or turning away their heads, fire at 
random, and who too often only wound, and have to 
charge and recharge their muskets before their prisoner 


dies. The soldiers have a superstitious dread of shoot- 
ing any particular man in cold blood, and fancy that 
his spirit will haunt that individual whose bullet has 
sent him into the other world. 

The black in his family relations is in general kindly, 
though few of the lower orders go through any civil 
or religious marriage ceremony ; in fact, it was at one 
time the custom of all classes to be "flaci" and only 
since the priests have regained some of their ancient 
influence have those who are considered respectable 
consented to go to church. The first daring innovators 
were almost stoned by the people, and even such men 
as Presidents Pdtion and Boyer were only "placed," 
the latter succeeding to the authority and " placi" 
of the former. Yet the children of these unions are 
by Haytian law legitimate, as the agreement to live 
together, as in our old common law, was considered 
equivalent to marriage. 

In the interior a well-to-do black lives openly with 
several women as wives,^ and I have seen the patriarch 
sitting at the door of the central house, with huts all 
around in which his younger wives lived, as they could 
not be made to dwell under the same roof. On Friday 
evenings he descends to market on a horse or mule, per- 
haps holding in his arms the latest born, while follow- 
ing in his train are a dozen women and sturdy children, 

1 " On nous ^orit de Port-de-Paix, qu'il est mort derni^rement un 
commandant d'arrondissement non loin de lb,, qui avait de 14 ii 15 
femmes, concubines, un peu partout." — La Viriti, Juillet 16, 1887. 



either carrying loads or driving beasts of burden. No 
one is mounted but himself. The French priests 
attempted to alter this state of things, but they did not 
succeed, as the wives, surrounding the intruders, asked 
them what was to be their position if the husband 
selected one among them and abandoned the rest. The 
priests have for the most part wisely decided not to 
meddle with the present, but rather endeavour to act 
upon the minds of the younger generation. They can 
hardly expect success as long as the number of women 
greatly exceeds those of the men. 

The blacks, though in general kind to their children, 
neglect them, and the mortality is said to be great. 
They are, however, very passionate, and in their anger 
they use in correction the first thing that comes to 
hand. A Spanish friend with a tender heart was riding 
one day in the country when his attention was drawn 
by the piercing shrieks of a child. He turned his head, 
and saw a black woman holding a little boy by the arm 
and beating him with a broomstick. He rode up, and 
catching the next blow on the handle of his whip, said, 
" Don't beat the child in that manner." The woman 
looked up surprised at the interference, and coolly re- 
plied in their patois, " Consite, li nfegue ; li pas fait li 
mal" (" Consul, it is a negro ; it will do him no harm "). 
Another day he saw a gigantic black beating with 
his club an interesting-looking young negress, giving 
blows that only a black could stand without being 
maimed. Again he interfered, but both set upon him. 


first with foul words, and then with such menacing 
gestures, that he was too glad to put spurs to his horse 
and gallop away. He found he had been interfering 
in a domestic quarrel. 

The brutal use of the cocomacaque or club is uni- 
versal, as I shall have to notice when describing the 
police. Under Toussaint's regulations the use of the 
whip, as an unpleasant memento of slavery, was abo- 
lished, but the club was introduced. Dessalines, as 
Inspector-G-eneral of Agriculture, brought it into vogue. 
At Les Cayes he one day ordered a woman to be beaten 
for neglecting some agricultural work ; she was far 
advanced in pregnancy, and her child was prematurely 
born whilst the punishment was being inflicted. When- 
ever Dessalines' name is mentioned, it is associated with 
some act of fiendish cruelty. 

As might be expected, few marriages take place 
between the whites and blacks ; the only instance of 
which I heard was a German clerk who married the 
daughter of a Minister in the hope of making his for- 
tune through the contracts he expected to obtain from 
his unscrupulous father-in-law ; but within a fortnight 
of the marriage the Minister was expelled from office. 
Contrary to general expectation, the German boldly 
faced his altered prospects, and the marriage appeared 
to have turned out more happily than could have been 
anticipated from so ill-assorted a union. 

Whilst travelling in Hayti one is often surprised at 
the extraordinary difi'erence in the appearance of the 


population, many being tall, fine men with open counte- 
nances, whilst others are the meanest-looking gorillas 
imaginable. Then their colour : some have shiny skins, 
that look as if blacking and the blacking-brush had 
been conscientiously applied, whilst others have the 
skin completely without lustre, looking almost as if 
disease were there. Again, others are of the deepest 
black, whilst their next neighbours may be of a reddish 

During my residence in Hayti I only saw one very 
handsome negress, and she was a peasant girl of La 
Coupe near Port-au-Prince : her features were almost 
perfect, and she might well have said — 

" Mislike me not for my complexion, 
The shadowed livery of the burnished sun, 
To whom I am a neighbour and nigh bred." 

She was not misliked, but she apparently stood the 
test of every temptation that her white admirers could 
offer. She had soft pleasant ways and a sweet voice, 
and talked her jargon of a language in so pretty a 
manner as almost to make one inclined to admit the 
Creole into the list of things civilised. But such a girl 
must be rare indeed, for I saw no other. In general 
they are very ugly, having no point of beauty. The 
marked, difference in the appearance of the negroes in 
Hayti doubtless arises from their origin, as they were 
brought from every tribe in Africa, not only from those 
freq^uenting the coast, but also as prisoners from' the 


interior. From all I have read of the African negro, 
the Haytian must be far advanced from that low type. 

It is a curious trait that the negro has a shy dislike 
of monkeys ; he has an uneasy feeling that the whites 
imagine that there is no great difference between a 
very ugly negro (and there are ugly ones) and a hand- 
some gorilla. The first evening I went to the theatre 
in Port-au-Prince, I was startled by the exclamation 
of my companion, " Qui est ce monstre africain ? " I 
turned, and saw in the President's box a perfect horror; 
but use reconciled me even to this man. An Italian 
once came to the capital with a dancing-monkey. 
Crowds followed him everywhere. One day he stopped 
before a German merchant's, and a fair little girl came 
out. The monkey would not dance, whereon the dis- 
appointed child said to her father in Creole, " Faut-il 
batte petit n^gue 1^." The mob were furious at the 
mistake, and the father was too glad to hurry in with 
his daughter to escape a shower of stones. 

There are still many negroes in Hayti who were born 
in Africa, being principally the remains of certain 
cargoes of slaves which English cruisers captured and 
landed among their free brethren. One whom I knew, 
had been taken, then freed by an English officer, sent to 
England, and educated at the expense of our Govern- 
ment. When of age he was asked what he would 
desire to do. He replied, "I should wish to go to 
Hayti." When I knew him he was an old man, and 
had risen to occupy the position of Minister of Justice. 


The principal trouble to the female negro mind is her 
unfortunate wool. How she envies her more favoured 
sisters their long tresses! how she tries to draw out 
each fibre, and endeavours to make something of it by 
carefully platting it with false hair ! Even the smallest 
negro servant will spend hours in oiling, brushing, and 
tending this poor crop, whose greatest length will only 
compass three or four inches. It is only when women 
are more than half white that the wool turns into 
hair, and even then it has sometimes a suspicious 
crispy wave, which, however, looks well. Of late years 
chignons have been a regular importation from France, 
and the little negresses are delighted with them. 

The negroes have a very curious habit of talking 
aloud to themselves. You will hear them in the 
streets or in the country roads carrying on apparently 
a long conversation, repeating all they have said or 
intended to say on a certain occasion, and in a very 
loud voice ; every other sentence is varied by a grunt 
or guttural ejaculation. Sometimes they are evidently 
excited, and are enacting a violent quarrel. They are 
apparently oblivious that all their remarks are heard ; 
or may be, they are delighted to take so many people 
into their confidence. It is a general observation that 
in nine cases out of ten the subject of which they are 
treating is money. Another curious habit is that 
noticed in " Tom Cringle's Log ; " a negro seldom points 
with his finger ; almost invariably it is with his chin. 

It has often been remarked what curious names are 


affixed to negroes, as Casar, Lord Byron, Je-crois-en- 
Dieu. This doubtless arose from a rule which existed 
during the French occupation, that no slave could be 
given a name which was used by their masters, so that 
the latter were driven to very curious expedients to 
find appellations for their bondsmen ; this rule applied 
in a lesser degree to the freedmen. 

Blanc pas trompi n&gue is the name given by the 
Haytians to common blue shirting. 

I may notice another peculiarity of the negresses. 
They object to carrying anything in their hands — they 
will invariably poise it on their heads. I have often 
seen them carrying a bottle thus, talking, laughing, run- 
ning, without having the slightest fear of its falling. 

The negroes have very singular words of insult, and 
I remember seeing a man roused to fury by a little 
black servant of mine, who, after exhausting every 
offensive word in her vocabulary, suddenly said in 
Creole, " Nfegue mangd chien." The black fellow 
darted at her, and had she not made a precipitate 
retreat into the house, she would have felt his club 
on her shoulders. 

It is an offensive custom among people of all classes 
in Hayti to repeat, as a sort of ejaculatory oath, a 
rather dirty Creole word. Men educated in a former 
generation cannot get rid of the habit, and many of 
the lower orders appear to use it at the close of every 
sentence. When Soulouque was Emperor he often 
consulted our Acting Consul-General, the present Sir 


Charles Wyke, lately Minister in Lisbon, as to the 
usages of the Courts of St. James's and Hanover, and 
it is said that our agent gave him a hint that habitual 
swearing was certainly contrary to courtly usages. 
Soulouque took this hint in good part, and thought 
that he would try his hand on an old General notorious 
for this habit. So the Emperor watched his oppor- 
tunity, and the first time his victim swore, he called 
him up and said, " General, I have decided that no one 
who comes to court can be permitted to use that offen- 
sive word with which you interlard your conversation." 
The General looked surprised, and answered, " Emperor, 

f , of course I will obey, f , your commands, 

f ." " There, you see," replied his ' Altesse,' " you 

have used the forbidden word three times." The poor 
General now completely lost his head, and answered, 

" F , Emperor, f , if, f , I am not allowed, 

f , to use the word f , I will cease, f , from 

coming to court, f ." The Emperor could not but 

laugh, and troubled the General no more, for the habit 
was too engrained. I should have treated this story 
as an exaggeration had not I myself heard an old 
officer equally profuse in his ejaculations. 

The Emperor Soulouque was a very ignorant man, 
and a good story is told in illustration. The French 
Consul-General, Eaybaud I believe, went once to plead 
some cause before his Majesty, and wound up by say- 
ing that if he did what was required he would be con- 
sidered " plus grand qu'Annibal." " Comment, Consite," 


replied the startled Emperor," inou4 cannibal ! " And it 
required all the Frenchman's tact to explain his refer- 
ence. As Soulouque was known to be affiliated to 
the Vaudoux sect, the illustration was not happy in its 

The negroes and mulattoes are very fond of queer 
expressions, and their odd noises in conversation quite 
disconcert a stranger. Assent, dissent, anger, playful 
acquiescence, are all expressed by the variety in which 
'ng-'ng are sounded, though a modified or even a musical 
grunt can scarcely be expressed on paper. The un- 
travelled ladies in Hayti are very proud of thus being 
able to express their sentiments without having re- 
course to words. 

The negroes of the lower orders are, like all other 
inhabitants of hot countries, very fond of bathing, but 
they are careless as to the cleanliness of their clothes. 
This I also noticed among the Malays and Dyaks of 
Borneo; they would bathe several times a day, and 
then return to their dirty garments. The dress of the 
peasantry in Hayti is often but an imitation of their 
European neighbours, though the females generally keep 
to a long white chemise, covered over with a blue 
cotton dress that reaches to their bare feet, and is 
drawn in round the waist. They wear a coloured 
handkerchief on their heads. On feast days and other 
gala occasions the young negresses dress in white, 
which makes a pleasant contrast of colour. 

Markets used formerly to be held on Sundays. 


When this custom was abolished the. female peasantry 
hegan to frequent the churches, and the comparison 
between their blue cotton gowns and the silk dresses 
of the ladies created envy. But when, in 1863, the 
price of cotton trebled, the peasantry had the means 
placed at their disposal to vie with the rich in Gonaives 
and St. Marc, and many availed themselves of it to go 
to church richly dressed. This fashion, however, lasted 
but a short time, and certainly did not survive the 
great fall in prices which followed the conclusion of 
the civil war in the United States. 

The upper classes dress exactly like European ladies, 
but they never look well in fashionable Parisian hats, 
while their tignon, or handkerchief tied gracefully 
round the head, is most becoming. A white tignon is 
a sign of mourning. There is nothing of which a 
Haytian lady is more proud than the amount of her 
personal and household linen. Her armoires are gene- 
rally full of every kind, and the finer in quality, the 
more they are esteemed; and the blacks are, if any- 
thing, more particular than the coloured in securing the 
most expensive underclothing. How they plume them- 
selves on the condition of their best bedroom. It is 
fitted up expensively, in order that people may see it, 
but it is very seldom used, except when they receive 
their lady friends. Then they bring out with great 
pride the treasures of their armoires, and show how 
well supplied they are with that of which they do not 
make a general use. 


There is one thing for which all Haytians are equally 
remarkable — their love of "rem&des." For every- 
thing, from a toothache to yellow-fever, they have a 
variety of prescriptions, which are probably well suited 
to the country, but which a foreigner should be wary 
in taking. I have not yet forgotten a remide, consist- 
ing partly of the juice of the sour orange, which a good 
old lady gave me on my first arrival in the country. 
It was my first and my last experience. The natives 
like being physicked, and apothecary shops appear 
to thrive in every town and village. I remember a 
Haytian doctor, educated in Paris, telling me how he 
lost his patients when he first commenced practice by 
not dosing them enough. 

The lower orders in Hayti have been accused of great 
incontinence, and the higher classes have not escaped 
the same accusation ; but in no tropical country are the 
lower orders continent. People affect to say that it is 
the effect of climate, but I have never thought so. You 
have bnt to put your hand on the skin of a negro or of 
any tropical race, to find it as cold as that of a fish, 
and their blood is but little warmer. Their food of 
vegetables would alone prevent their having the fiery 
blood of a well-fed people. 

The fact is, that continence is not considered a 
virtue by the lower orders in the tropics, and love- 
stories are told by mothers before their young daughters 
in all their crudest details, and no effort whatever is 
made to keep the minds or bodies of the young girls 


chaste.^ The consequence is, that in early life, 
particularly among relatives', intercourse is almost 
promiscuous. As amusements are very scarce, young 
and old give themselves up to gallantry; but it is 
constant opportunity and the want of occupation and 
amusement which are the causes of incontinence, not 
their warm blood. 

There are two things on which both negroes and 
mulattoes pride themselves : their fine ear for music 
and their proficiency in dancing. A talented French 
bandmaster told me, that if taken young, he thought 
he could train his Haytian pupils to be excellent 
musicians ; and as they are fond of the study and 
practice, he had no difficulty whatever in keeping them 
to their classes; and many of the military bands in 
Port-au-Prince played fairly well, though, from ineffi- 
cient and irregular instruction under native teachers, 
much was still to be desired. The drum, however, was 
a very favourite instrument, and the noise produced 

^ " Nous ne croyons pas nous tromper de beaueoup en affirmant que 
la regrettable promiscuity qui existe malheureusement dans tant de 
families est una des causes de ce profond relSchement de nos moeurs. 
Les enfants, le p&re, la rahre couohent le plus souvent pele-mele dans 
la m^me piece. Les parents parlent de tout, tiennent les propos les 
plus testes devant les miuches qu'ils ne croient pas en mesure de com- 
prendre oe qui se dit ou se fait. Cependant I'enfant est un grand 
observateur." — La YiriU, Avril 30, 1887. 

When friends or relatives arrive at a house, and there are not bed- 
rooms enough for the whole party, mattresses are spread on the floor, 
ofte'ii of the drawing-room, and father, mother, children, female servants 
and others retire to rest pell-mell together. I have seen this myself on 
many occasions. 


was sometimes startling. The travelled wife of a 
President used to say that she thought no music in 
Paris equal to the Haytian, especially the dmms. 

The dancing of the upper classes is much the same 
in all countries, though in Hayti the favourite dance is 
a special one called " Carabinier." Among the people, 
however, are still to be observed the old dances they 
brought from Africa. 

Moreau de St. Me^ry, in his admirable work on Santo 
Domingo during the French colonial days (new edition, 
p. 52), has described the dances of the slaves as he 
saw them previous to 1790, and his words might be 
used to depict what occurs at the present day. 

With the negroes dancing is a passion, and no 
fatigue stands in the way of their indulging in it. The 
announcement that a dance will take place brings 
people from surprising distances, and the sound of the 
drums acts like a charm, and all fatigue is forgotten. 
Young and old, although they may have walked twenty 
miles, with heavy burdens for the next day's market, 
join in it with enthusiasm. 

But the most interesting dances are those performed 
by the professionals. Generally they consist of a couple 
of men to beat the drums, a very fat woman as trea- 
surer, and three or four younger women noted for 
their skill. Soon after President Salnave came into 
power I was a guest at a picnic at a place where some 
famous dancers had summoned the young men of the 
district to come and meet them. 


Our hosts had heard of this affair, and invited us to 
go down to the spot, where a large space was covered in 
with the leaves of the palm tree, as even these seasoned 
performers could not stand the burning mid-day sun. 
The two men with the drums were there, coarse instru- 
ments made out of a hollowed piece of wood, one 
end open, the other closed with the skin of a goat or 
sheep, on which the men play with their knuckles, 
one slowly and the other faster; calabashes with 
pebbles or Indian-corn in them are shaken or stricken 
against the hand, and the spectators intone a chant. 
Then the master of the ceremonies and the chief of the 
band calls out a name, and one of the professionals 
stands forth and begins to perform. Any man from the 
crowd may come and dance with her, holding his hand 
raised over his head with a small sum in paper money, 
worth perhaps a penny. When she wishes a change she 
takes this money in her hand, and one of the impatient 
lookers-on cuts in and supplies the place of the first ; 
other performers arise, until the whole shed is full. As 
the excitement grows, some of the young girls of the 
neighbourhood also join in. I noticed that every note 
collected was religiously handed to the treasurer, to be 
employed in supporting the b&,nd and paying for the 
dresses, which, however, did not appear expensive, as 
the women were clothed in white gowns, coloured head- 
dresses, and handkerchiefs always carried in their right 
hands. I remarked, however, that what could be seen 
of their under-linen was remarkably fine. 


The dance itself is not striking or interesting, but 
they keep time very exactly. To show how African 
it is, I may mention that an officer from our West 
Coast squadron was one day passing near these per- 
formers, when he was suddenly seized with a desire to 
dance, and struck in before the prettiest negress of the 
band. His dancing was so good that gradually all the 
blades sat down, and left these two performers in the 
midst of an interested crowd, who by shouting, clapping 
their hands, and singing urged on the pair to renewed 
exertions ; and I have heard several who were present 
say that never had they seen anything equal to this 
dancing in Hayti. Our friend had learnb the art on 
the coast of Africa, and was as strong as a lion and 
as active as a gazelle; he was called "the pocket 

To return to our party. After some very insigni- 
ficant dancing, a new tune was struck up, and the 
performers began to go through something more attrac- 
tive to the crowd. This dance was called Chica, but 
popularly I have heard it named Bamhoula, from the 
drum, which often consists of a hollow bamboo ; so 
it is said. This lascivious dance is difficult to describe. 
I think I wiU let Moreau de St. Mery do it for me : — 

" Cette danse a un air qui lui est sp^cialement con- 
sacrd et ou la mesure est fortement marquee. Le 
talent pour la danseuse est dans la perfection avec 
laquelle elle pent faire mouvoir ses hanches et la partie 
inf^rieure de ses reins, en conservant tout le reste du 


corps dans une espece d'immobilite, que ne lui font 
meme pas perdre les faibles agitations de ses bras qui 
balancent les deux extr^mites d'un mouchoir ou de son 
jupon. Un danseur s'approcbe d'elle, s'elance tout-a- 
coup, et tombe en mesure presque k la toucher. 
II recule, il s'elance encore, et la provoque k la 
lutte la plus seduisante. La danse s'anime, et bientot 
elle offre un tableau dont tous les traits, d'abord 
voluptueux, deviennent ensuite lascifs. II serait im- 
possible de peindre le chica avec son veritable carac- 
tere, et je me bornerai h, dire que I'impression qu'U cause 
est si puissante que TAfricain ou le Creole de n'importe 
quelle nuance, qui le verrait danser sans emotion, 
passerait pour avoir perdu jusqu'aux dernieres ^^tin- 
celles de la sensibilite." 

I matched its effect on the bystanders of all colours, 
and St. Mery has not exaggerated ; the flushed faces, 
the excited eyes, the eager expression, the looks of ill- 
concealed passion, were fuUy shared by all No modest 
woman ■would be present at such a scene ; but the 
young females of the neighbourhood were delighted. 
Drink was flying freely about, and all the performers 
appeared half -intoxicated : the dance grew fast and 
furious ; as night came on a few candles were Ut, and 
then all are said to give themselves up to the most 
unreserved debauchery. I ought to add that few 
respectable girls of the peasant class even would care to 
be seen at one of these dances, where the professionals, 
without shame, perform regardless of appearances. 


The hamhoula, as practised among the peasantry, is 
more quiet, but sufficiently lascivious.^ 

I was once witness of a rather curious scene. A 
French opera company arrived at Port-au-Prince with 
a couple of ballet-girls. On the opening night of the 
theatre they commenced dancing; the pit, crowded 
with negroes, was at first quiet. The untravelled Hay- 
tian could not at first understand it ; but shortly the 
applause became uproarious; shouts filled the house; 
the unaccustomed sight of two white girls thus exhibit- 
ing themselves provoked the sensuality of the negro 
nature to such a degree that it was almost impossible 
to keep them quiet, and their admiration was so warmly 

1 The remark has been again and again made, " You are describing 
the past, not the present." The following is from the Haytian uewn- 
paper ie Peuple ot August 20, 1887 : — "Dimanche, 14 Courant. — La 
ville ^tait presque d^serte, et tout le monde avait gagn^ la campagne 
afin de passer deux jours au frais, qui sous un manguier prfes d'uue 
source limpide et claire, qui au bord de la mer aux ondes onduleuses et 
bleutt^es, qui dans un bamboula d'autant plus anim^ que n^gresses, 
mulatresses et griffonnes par leur souplesse lascive y ajoutaient un 
charme rdel. Les unes arrivaient pimpantes et fibres au devant d'un 
cavalier qui tenait k la main un sou de cuivre, et au moment oh il croy- 
ait saisir la main de la fifere orijole, celle-ci pirouette sur elle-mSme et va 
tendre la main au galant qui avait 20 ou 50 centimes entre les doigts. 
Una autre tapait de la pointe du pied le gazon mouvant et appelait k 
elle les beaux cavaliers accourus de la ville pour se distraire et les deux 
s'enlagant dansaient avec un entrain le plus entrainant. On prenait 
force cocktails et grogs, et plus les vapeurs montaient au cerveau des 
danseurs, plus la danse s'animait et plus on dansait licencieusement. 
Cela durait tant que les forces des danseurs les leur permettaient, alors 
on se jettait sur des nattes et prenait le repos n^cessaire, et gros bouillon 
avec force piment ravivait les convives qui se jetaient de nouveau dans 
les tourbillons de ces bamboulas charmants," 



expressed as even to frighten the girls, who turned pale 
with astonishment mingled with fear. This kind of 
applause made the foreigners feel uncomfortable, and 
we were not sorry when the ballet ended. 

I have not noticed any particular ceremonies at the 
birth of children, nor at marriages. In the latter, some 
are striving to imitate the upper classes, and have the 
ceremony performed in church, but the mass of the 
people are still not regularly married. I have noticed, 
however, their great fondness for a display of jewellery 
on these occasions, and if they do not possess enough 
themselves, they borrow among their friends, and every 
one who lends is sure to attend the wedding, as much 
to keep an eye on their cherished property as to join in 
the amusements inherent to these occasions. 

Though I have attended many funerals of the upper 
classes, I have had no occasion to be present at one 
of the peasantry, though I have seen the body being 
carried at night from the town to the house of the 
deceased in the hills. One evening, at about ten, we 
heard a roar of voices in the distance; presently we 
saw torches flashing in the road, and soon after a crowd, 
perhaps of a hundred people, swept by at a running 
pace, all screaming, yelling, or shrieking at the top of 
their voices. Those who led this awful din were hired 
mourners, who pass the night near the corpse, making 
it hideous with their professional lamentations. These 
are regular wakes, at which eating and drinking are 
permitted, and drunkenness not prohibited. All classes 


in Hayti, like their brethren on the Guinea Coast, love 
pompous funerals, and it is quite a passion among the 
female portion of the community to attend them, as it 
is only at funerals and at church that the ladies can see 
and be seen in their most careful toilettes. 

The most curious wake I ever saw was at Santo 
Domingo city. . I was walking about after dark, when 
my attention was drawn to a house where music and 
dancing were going on. I approached, and looking 
through a window, saw a most singular sight. In a 
high chair was placed in a sitting position the corpse 
of a child, dressed up in its very best clothes, as if a 
spectator of the scene. The music was playing briskly, 
and a regular ball appeared to be going on, in which 
the mother of the child took the principal part. I 
inquired of my companion what this meant, and he 
said that the people explained it thus : — The priests 
had taught them not to weep, but rather rejoice, at 
the death of a child, as it passed directly to heaven. 
They took this teaching literally, and danced and made 

" Whom the gods love, die young." 

The negroes, as a rule, live to a good old age, and 
bear their age well ; they also keep their magnificent 
white teeth to the last, which they ascribe to diligent 
cleanliness and the crushing of the sugar-cane under 
their strong grinders : their hair also preserves its 
colour much later than that of the white. In fact, 
it is difficult to guess the age of a negro. 


The negro is rarely seriously ill, though he often 
fancies himself so; he suffers most from his indul- 
gences and the indifferent skill of those who under- 
take his cure. He bears pain exceedingly well, which 
may partly arise from his nerves not being highly 
strung. The negro is distinguished for his (for want 
of a better word I may call) insouciance. _ It is a most 
provoking characteristic, and one of the causes of his 
want of progress. 

The general impression is that serious crime is rare 
in Hayti, except that which is connected with the 
Vaudoux-worship. This, however, is a mistake ; crime 
is treated with too much indifference, and professional 
poisoners are well known to the police. Before the 
civil war of 1868 and 1869 crimes of violence were 
more rare ; that civil strife, however, demoralised the 
population. Pilfering is their great failing, and it is 
said a negro never leaves a room without looking round 
to see that he has not forgotten something. 

They have much superstition with regard to zomlis, 
revenants, or ghosts, and many will not leave the. house 
after dark; yet the love of pleasure often overcomes 
this, and the negro will pass half the night hieing to 
his trysting-place. 

Of their pleasures, smoking is one equally enjoyed 
by every class, and quietly by most women after a 
certain age. The cheapness of tafia or white rum has 
an evil effect on the male population, who as a rule 
drink to excess. 


The black Haytians resent being spoke of by foreigners 
as negroes, though they use the word freely among them- 
selves. They prefer being called gens de couleur, as both 
the expressions ndgres and muldtres are considered as 
implying contempt. During the tiresome quarter of an 
hour before dinner, my friend Villevaleix (coloured) 
turned round to a Minister of State (black) and said, 
"What do you think the French charge d'affaires re- 
marked when he first saw you ? — ' Quel beau n^gre ! ' " 
The blood rushed to the face of the Haytian, and his 
cheeks became of a deeper black; and we were all 
thankful that at the moment dinner was announced. 
I doubt whether the Minister ever forgave the author 
or the repeater of the remark. Froude in his "Eng- 
lish in the West Indies " relates the following : — " The 
American Consul told me a story of a ' nigger ' officer 
with whom he had once got into conversation in Hayti. 
He had inquired why they let so fine an island run 
to waste ? why did not they cultivate it ? The dusky 
soldier laid his hand upon his breast and waved his 
hand. ' Ah ! ' he said, ' that might do for English or 
Germans or Franks ; we of the Latin race have higher 
things to occupy us ! '" 

The negro has the greatest, in fact, an almost super- 
stitious, reverence for the flags of foreign nations. A 
well-known partisan chief, Acaau, came once to the 
English Consulate at Les Cayes, and demanded that all 
the refugees there should be given up to him to be 
shot. Our Acting Vice-Consul, Charles Smith, refused, 


and as Acaau insisted, the Vice-Consul took up tlie 
Union Jack, and placing it on the staircase, said to 
the chief, " If any of you have the courage to tread on 
that flag, he may go upstairs and seize the refugees." 
Acaau looked at the flag a moment, and then said, 
" Not I," and walked away, followed by his men. This 
■was not from fear of material consequences, although 
there were two English ships of war in harbour, as, 
when one of the captains threatened to bombard the 
town if foreigners were molested, Acaau answered, 
" Tell me with which end you will begin, and I will 
commence to burn the other." He was a mountaineer, 
who would have been delighted to have seen the whole 
place destroyed. Many years afterwards, to avoid being 
executed by the Government, he perished by his own 
hand. ~ 

I must add an anecdote to mark the respect shown 
by the negro to the white. In April 1866, on account 
of a quarrel between an officer on board a steamer and 
some blacks, the mob determined to revenge them- 
selves. Watching their opportunity, they seized an 
English sailor belonging to the ship and bound him 
to a log. Hundreds of excited negroes surrounded 
him with drawn razors and knives, threatening to cut 
him to pieces ; when Mr. Savage, an English rnerchant, 
happening to be passing by, inquired the cause of the 
disturbance, and hearing what had happened to his 
countryman, forced his way through the mob, and 
when he reached the sailor, drew a penknife from his 


pocket, and, despising the yells and threats of the 
crowd, cut the cords, freed the man, and walked him 
down to the steamer's boat. The cool courage shown 
hy Mr. Savage perfectly awed the mob. As the 
Haytian police who were present had not interfered 
to prevent this outrage, a hundred pounds indemnity 
was demanded of the Haytian Government, which was 
paid, and subsequently transmitted to the sailor. 

I will conclude with noticing that the description of 
the apathy and listlessness of the Haytians, given by 
Mackenzie in 1826, might apply to the present day, 
as well as his reference to the lean dogs and leaner 
pigs which infest the capital. He heard an English- 
man say, "D these Haytians; they can't even 

fatten a pig." 


"They hate their fathers and despise their mothers," is 
a saying which is a key to the character of the mulatto. 
They hate .the whites and despise the blacks, hence their 
false position. That they are looked down upon by 
the whites and hated by the blacks is the converse 
truth, which produces an unfortunate effect upon their 
character. They have many of the defects of the two 
races, and 'but few of their good qualities. Those who 
have never left their country are too often conceited, 
and presumptuous to a degree which is scarcely cre- 
dible ; whilst many who have travelled appear but little 
influenced by bright examples of civilisation, or by 


their intercourse with European nations, retaining but 
the outward polish of a superficial French education. 
Foreigners who casually meet Haytians are often only 
struck by their agreeable manners, but to understand 
their real character one must live among them, hear 
their talk among themselves, or read the newspapers 
published for local circulation. 

Travel, indeed, has little outward effect on the majo- 
rity, and they return to their own' country more pre- 
sumptuous than ever. It has struck many attentive 
observers that this outward parade of conceit is but 
a species of protest against the inferior position they 
occupy in the world's estimation, and that with their 
advance in civilisation and education they will rise in 
the opinion of others, and thus lose the necessity for 
so much self-assertion. I believe this to be highly 
probable, but until the mulattoes are convinced of 
their present inferiority, the improvement must be 
slow indeed. 

. It may be remarked, however, that those who have 
been educated in Europe from their earliest years show 
few or none of those defects which are implanted in 
them by their early associations. I have known coloured 
men whose first real knowledge of their own country 
was acquired in manhood, who were in every respect 
equal to their white companions, as manly and as free 
from absurd pretensions, and naturally without that 
dislike of foreigners which is instilled into home- 
educated mulattoes. These men, knowing the con- 


sideration ia which they were held by all, had no 
necessity for any self-assertion. 

The early training in Hayti is much at fault ; their 
mothers, generally uninstructed, have themselves but 
few principles of delicacy to instil into their children's 
minds. I will mention a case in illustration. A lady 
was asked to procure some article for a foreign visitor. 
She readily undertook the commission, and sent her son, 
a boy of ten, to seek the article. He returned shortly 
afterwards and said to his mother, " Our neighbour has 
what you want, but asks twenty-seven paper dollars 
for it." " Go and tell our friend that you have found 
it for forty, and we will divide the difference between 
us." A mutual acquaintance heard of this transaction, 
and subsequently reproached the lady for the lesson of 
deceit and swindling she had taught her child ; she only 
laughed, and appeared to think she had done a very 
clever thing. The subsequent career of that boy was 
indeed a thorn in her side. 

Their financial morality is very low indeed. A friend 
of mine expressing his surprise to one of the prettiest 
and most respectable girls in Port-au-Prince that such 
open robbery of the receipts of the custom-house was 
permitted, received for answer, "Prendre I'argent de 
r^tat, ce n'est pas vole " (" To take Government money 
is not robbery ")} With such ideas instilled into the 

1 "TJn juge d'instruct.ion nous disait qu'il ftait effray^ du nombre 
de plaintes qu'U avait regues centre les employ& publics pour escro- 
querie, abus de confiance, stellionat, &c. Jamais le niveau moral du 


minds of all from their earliest youth, if is scarcely 
to be wondered at that the Haytians grow up to be 
completely without financial honour. Truth is an- 
other virtue which appears to be rarely inculcated by 
parents, and this perhaps may be accounted for by 
their origin. Slaves are notoriously given to false- 
hood, and this defect has been inherited by succeeding 
generations, and can scarcely be eradicated untH a 
higher moral teaching prevails. 

I was struck by an anecdote told me by a French 
gentleman at Port-au-Prince : it is a trifle, but it shows 
the spirit of the Haytian youth. A trader, in very 
moderate circumstances, sent a half-grown son to finish 
his education in Paris, and as the father had no friends 
there, he said to my informant, "Will you ask your 
family to pay my son a little attention ? " In conse- 
quence, a lady called at the school and took the youth 
for a walk in the Luxembourg Gardens. Approaching 
the basins, she said, " I suppose you have none like 
these in Hay ti ? " " Oh," was his reply, " my father 
has finer ones in his private grounds ; " the fact being, 
that he had nothing there but a bath a few feet square. 
This miserable pretence is one of the causes of the slow 

peuple n'a 6t6 si abaiss^ et le vol en redingote si commun. . 
cureurs qui doivent d^fendre les int^rSts publics ; des g^^S^de, 1% 
justice qui doivent maintenir I'ordre; des instituteurs qtd dl^veut^ 
la jeunesse, n'h&itent plus k sacrifier leur honneur et leur repu- 
tation. . . . Les h6nnetes gens n'ont plus la foi et les coquins 
n'en sent que plus audacieux et plus dangereux." — La Viriti, Octo- 
bre i6, 1886. 


improvement in Hayti; they cannot or they will not 
see the superiority of foreign countries. 

A late Secretary of State was present at a review in 
Paris, when ten thousand splendid cavalry charged up 
towards the Emperors of Trance and Eussia. " It is 
very fine," he said ; " but how much better our Haytian 
soldiers ride ! " Another gentleman, long employed as a 
representative at a foreign court, returning home, could 
find nothing better to say to President Geffrard than, 
"Ah ! President, you should send some of our officers to 
Paris, that their superiority of tenue may be known in 
Europe.'' I wish I could present some photographic 
illustrations of a Haytian regiment in support of this 

I am, in fact, doubtful whether travel as yet has 
done much good to the general public, as they see their 
young men returning from Europe and America, after 
having witnessed the best of our modern civilisation, 
who assure them that things are much better managed 
in Hayti. 

Their self-importance may be illustrated by the 
following anecdote of another ex-Secretajy of State. 
He went with a friend to see the races at Longchamps. 
They had their cabriolet drawn up at a good spot, 
when presently an acquaintance of the driver got up 
on the box-seat to have a better view. " I must tell 
that man to get down," said the ex-Minister. " Leave 
him alone," answered his French friend. "It is all 
very well for y.ou, a private individual, to say that ; but 


I, a former Secretary of State, what will the people say 
to my permitting such familiarity?" and he looked 
uneasily around, thinking that the eyes of the whole 
Parisian world were bent on their distinguished visitor. 
I once saw some hoxes addressed thus : — " Les demoi- 
selles , enfants de M. , ex-SecrMaire d'Etat." 

Of the profound dislike of the genuine coloured 
Haytian for the whites I will relate an instance. "We 
were invited to a school examination given by the 
Sisters of Cluny, and naturally the official guests were 
put in the front rank, with the officers of a French 
gunboat, from which position we assisted at a distribu- 
tion of prizes, and some little scenes acted by the 
pupils. The next day a Haytian gentleman, one who 
was an ornament to his country for his extensive 
knowledge and legal erudition, made this remark-rr 
" When I saw those whites put into the front row, it 
reminded me of the time when the ancient colonists 
sat arms akimbo watching the dances of their slaves." 
As he said this before a party of white gentlemen, we 
may imagine what were his utterances before his own 

Moreau de St. M4ry gives a table of the different 
combinations of colour among the mixed race, amount- 
ing to one hundred and twenty, which produce thirteen 
distinct shades between the pure white and the pure 
black. Each has a name, the most common of which 
are : " Quateron, white and mulatto ; mulatto, white 
and black; griffe, black and mulatto. These were 


the original combinations, but constant intermarriages 
have produced a great variety of colour, even in the 
same families, some breeding back to their white, others 
to their black forefathers. It appears as if the lighter 
shades of mulatto would die out, as many of this class 
marry Europeans, and leave the country with their 
children, and the others marry Haytians more or less 
dark, and the tendency is to breed back to their black 
ancestors. There are too few whites settled in the 
country to arrest this backward movement. In Santo 
Domingo, however, the stay for a few years (1859-64) 
of a large Spanish army had a very appreciable effect 
on the population. 

The personal appearance of the coloured Haytians is 
not striking. Being in general a mixture of rather a 
plain race in Europe with the plainest in Africa, it is 
not surprising that the men should be ugly and the 
women far from handsome. Of course there is a 
marked distinction between the men who have more 
dark blood in their veins and those who approach tlie 
white ; in fact, those who are less than half-European 
have in general the hair frizzled like a negro's, the 
forehead low, the eyes dark in a yellow setting, the 
nose flat, the mouth large, the teeth perfect, the jaw 
heavy; whilst as they approach the white type they 
greatly improve in appearance, until they can scarcely 
be distinguished from the foreigner, except by the dead 
colour of the skin and some trifling peculiarities. 

Of the women it is mgre difficult to speak ; they are 


rarely good-looking, never beautiful. As they approach 
the white type, they have long, rather coarse hair, 
beautiful teeth, small fieshless hands and feet, deli- 
cate forms, and sometimes graceful movements, due 
apparently to the length of the lower limbs. Their 
principal defects are their voices, their noses, their 
skins, and sometimes the inordinate size of the lower 
jaw. Their voices are harsh, their skins blotchy or of a 
dirty brown, their noses flat or too fleshy, and the jaw, 
as I have said, heavy. Occasionally you see a girl 
decidedly pretty, who would pass in any society, but 
these are rare. In general they are very plain, par- 
ticularly as you approach the black type, when the 
frizzled hair begins to appear. 

There is one subject necessary to mention, though it 
is a delicate one. Like the negroes, the mulattoes have 
often a decided odour, and this is particularly observable 
after dancing or any violent exercise which provokes 
perspiration, and then no amount of eau de cologne or 
other scents will completely conceal the native perfume. 
The griffes, however, are decidedly the most subject to 
this inconvenience, and I met one well-dressed woman 
who positively tainted the air. 

With the exception of those who have been sent 
abroad, the Haitiennes have had until lately few 
chances of education, and are therefore little to be 
blamed for their ignorance. This want of instruction, 
however, has an ill effect, as time necessarily hangs 
heavy on their hands, and they can neither give those 


first teachings to their children .which are never for- 
gotten, nor amuse themselves with literature or good 

It is the fashion in Hayti to vaunt the goodness and 
tenderness of their women in sickness ; but what women 
are not good and tender under similar circumstances ? 
I have received as much kindness in suffering from the 
Malays when wandering in Borneo as any one has 
perhaps ever received elsewliere. The fact is, that these 
qualities are inherent to women in general. Perhaps 
the greatest praise that can be given to the Haytian 
ladies is, that they do not appear inferior to others who 
reside in the tropics in the care of their children, or in 
the management of their households, or in their conduct 
towards their husbands. 

They have their ways in public and their ways in 
private, but their greatest defect is their want of clean- 
liness, which is observable in their houses, their chil- 
dren, and their own clothes. Without going so far as 
to say, with the naval ofiScer, that " their customs are 
dirty, and manners they have none," I may say that 
they have habits which are simply indescribable ; and 
when not dressed to receive company they are veritable 
slatterns, sauntering about their houses all day in dirty 
dressing-gowns, and too often in unchanged linen. 
Their bedrooms have a close stuffy smell, the conse- 
quence of the above referred to indescribable habits^ 
which is highly displeasing to a stranger, and induced 
an American gentleman to remark that their rooms had 


the smell of a stable. They are also very careless in 
another way, and will go into their kitchens even in 
their silks, and aid in preparing sweetmeats ; and the 
stains on their clothes from this cause reminded me of 
a young Malay lady cooking a greasy curry whilst 
dressed in a rich gold brocade, and upsetting half of it 
over her dress in an endeavour to conceal herself or 
her work. 

The conduct of the Haytian ladies who are married 
to foreigners is much to their credit, as rarely a case 
occurs to draw the attention 'of the public to their 
private life ; and almost the same may be said of their 
married life in general, and this in defiance of the de- 
bauchery of their Haytian husbands. This virtue was, 
perhaps, unfairly ascribed by a French diplomatist to 
their slugglish temperaments and their want of imagi- 
nation. But, whatever may be the cause, it appears to 
exist to a considerable extent. 

The habit of having no regular hours for meals 
appears to prevail in most tropical countries; and in 
Hayti, though there are fixed times for the husband and 
the other males of a family, who can only return from 
business at certain hours, yet the ladies of the family 
prefer cakes, sweetmeats, and dreadful messes at all 
periods of the day, and only sit down to the family 
meal pro formd. ISTo wonder they are ever complaining 
of indigestion, and taking their wonderful remkdes. 

From my own observation, and that of many of my 
friends, I may assert with confidence as a general pro- 


position, that the Haytian black or mulatto is more 
given to drink, and to a forgetfulness of his duty to 
his family, than any other people with whom we were 
acquainted. With some marked, and I should add 
numerous exceptions, after his early coffee the Haytian 
-begins the day with a grog or cocktail, and these grogs 
and cocktails continue until, at mid-day, many of the 
young men are slightly intoxicated, and by night a 
large minority at least are either in an excited, a sullen, 
or a maudlin state. 

It appears also to be a rule among them, that, 
whether married or not, a Haytian must have as many 
mistresses as his purse will permit him ; these are 
principally drawn from the lower classes. This practice 
is not confined to any particular rank ; from the Presi- 
dents downwards, all are tainted with the same evil. 
The mistresses of the first-named are always known, as 
•they are visited publicly, often accompanied by a staff 
or a few select officers. I have met them even at 
dinner in respectable houses, and have been asked to 
trace a resemblance between their children and the 
reputed father. Wo one seeks to conceal it, and the 
conversation of married ladies continually turns on 
this subject. One excuse for it is that many of the 
ladies whom you meet in society were only married 
after the birth of their first children. However, accord- 
ing to French law, that ceremony renders them all 

Some of those admitted into society are not married 



at all, but their daughters being married, prevents notice 
being taken of the false position of the mother. 

An excuse has been made for the debauchery of the 
Haytians. It is said that there are three women to 
every two men, which is probably true, and that there- 
fore the latter are exposed to every kind of temptation, 
which is also true. 

I have already referred to the want of financial 
honour observable in Hayti ; but what is equally per- 
nicious is their utter forgetfulness of what is due to 
their military oath. As I shall have to notice in my 
remarks on the army, scarcely a single name can be 
cited of a superior officer who under President Geffrard 
did not forget his duty, and either conspire against him 
or betray him to the enemy. This was particularly 
observable during the siege of Cap Haitien in 1865. 
And yet were these officers who were false to their 
military honour looked down upon by their country- 
men ? On the contrary, their only title to considera- 
tion was their treachery to their former superior, who 
in turn is accused of having betrayed every Government 
he had served. 

A Frenchman once wittily said, that when Geffrard 
was made President, being no longer able to conspire 
against the Government, he conspired against his 
own Ministers. It .is the whole truth in a few 
words. No encouragement is given to those who 
hold firmly to their duty; and an officer who did not 
desert a tottering Government would be sure to be 


neglected, perhaps even punished, by those who suc- 
ceeded to power. 

One reason for the dislike entertained by the mulatto 
for the white man is the evident partiality of their fair 
countrywomen for the latter. It is well known that 
the first dream or heau idial of the young Haitienne is 
a rich, and if possible a good-looking European, who 
can place her in a respectable position, give her the 
prospect of occasional visits to Europe, with the ulti- 
mate expectation of entirely residing there. Few young 
girls lose the hope of securing this desirable husband, 
particularly among those who have received their 
education in Europe, until their charms begin slightly 
to fade, when th'ey content themselves with the least 
dark among their countrymen. It is unfortunate 
that this should be the case, as those who are most 
enlightened among the Haytian ladies are thus with- 
drawn from the civilising influence they would other- 
wise naturally exert. This preference for the white 
to the coloured man was also very conspicuous during 
the French occupation ; and all things considered, it is 
not to be wondered at, as the whites make much better 

The young mulatto, seeing this evident partiality for 
the foreigner, naturally resents it, but instead of trying 
to put himself on an equality of position with his rival 
by the exercise of industry and by good conduct, ex- 
pends his energies in furious tirades in the cafds or by 
low debauchery. 


The Haytians are distinguished for what the Trench 
call jadance, a better word than boasting. Mackenzie 
tells the story of a mulatto colonel saying to him, 
" Je vous assure, monsieur, que je suis le plus brave de 
tous les mul^tres de ce pays-ci." He was lost in admi- 
ration of his own noble qualities. At the fortress 
of La Ferri^re, during Mackenzie's visit, a Captain 
Elliot said about some trifle, "N'ayez pas peur ?" Imme- 
diately the ofiScers of the garrison clapped their hands 
■to their swords and talked five minutes of inflated 

My friend D. was not free from this failing. He 
said one day, " If a revolution broke out, I and half- 
a-dozen of my companions would sally forth into the 
streets with our carbines and put it down." Fighting 
in the streets did commence, but my friend D. was not 
there with his carbine, but in the innermost room of 
his house, green with emotion and fright. 

I remember a Haytian general once calling upon me 
in London, and asking me to get inserted in the daily 
papers a long account of the battles in which he had 
been engaged, and of his personal exploits. He was 
anxious that the English people should know what a 
hero they had among them. As he was really a brave 
fellow, and a man whom I liked, I was very desirous 
that he should not make himself ridiculous by publishing 
a pompous account of battles which were but skirmishes 
among the peasantry. I therefore gave him a letter of 
introduction to an editor, who, I was sure, would explain 


to him that the English public would not be interested 
in the affair. I heard no more of it, but my friend was 
persuaded that since Napoleon no greater general than 
he had arisen. 

As an ideal type of the better class of mulatto, I 
would take the late President Geffrard ; he had all the 
qualities and defects of the race, and was one whom I 
had the best opportunity of studying. In a report 
which for some reason I never forwarded, I find myself 
thus sketching his portrait when almost in daily inter- 
course with him (1866) : — "I am loth to analyse the 
character of President Geffrard, but as he is the Govern- 
ment itself, it is necessary to know him. In manner 
he is polished and gentle, almost feminine in his gen- 
tleness, with a most agreeable expression, a winning 
smile, and much fluency in conversation. But the im- 
pression soon gains possession of the listener that, with 
all his amiable qualities, the President is vain and 
presumptuous, absorbed in himself and in his own 
superiority to the rest of mankind. He imagines 
himself a proficient in every science, although he is as 
ignorant as he is untravelled. There is not a subject 
on which he does not pretend to know more even than 
those whose studies have been special, as lawyers, 
doctors, architects, and engineers. He seriously assures 
you that he discovered the use of steam by inde- 
pendent inquiries, and that he is prepared to construct 
a machine which shall solve the problem of perpetual 
motion ; and he, who has not ridden anything larger 


than a middle-sized pony, imagines he could give hints 
in riding to our Newmarket jockeys." 

Geffrard, like many other coloured men, was much 
distressed by the crispness of his hair and his dark 
colour, and having a half-brother very fair, he per- 
sisted in assuring us that he had been born nearly 
white, with straight hair, but that having unfortunately 
bathed in the streams of Sal Trou during many months, 
the water, being deeply impregnated with iron, had 
curled his hair and darkened his skin. In any other 
man I should have suspected a jest. 

One of the things which contributed to the unpopu- 
larity of the Emperor Soulouque was the waste of the 
public finances and the extravagance of his court. 
General Geffrard, who lived in penury before becom- 
ing President, promised to reform this ; but instead of 
doing so, he gradually raised his own allowance to 
;^ 10,000 a year; he also had the sole control of ;^'4000 
a year for secret service, and another ;^40OO a year for 
the encouragement of the arts and sciences. The grate- 
ful country had also presented him with two large 
estates, the expenses of which were largely borne by 
the State, whilst the profits were Geffrard's. 

As nearly every one of his countrymen would have 
acted in the same manner if he had had the oppor- 
tunity, Geffrard's conduct excited envy rather than 
blame. Even in the smallest details of the household 
there was a mean spirit; the expenses of the meat of 
the family were put down to the tirailleurs, whilst 


some exquisite champagne purchased of a colleague 
was charged to the hospital. Geffrard was certainly- 
one of the most distinguished of his race, yet he sullied 
his good name by all these patty meannesses. I once 
asked a Haytian friend why she and others were 
always running down Geffrard and his family. She 
answered, " Because when I knew them intimately, 
they were as poor as myself, but now Madame Geffrard 
insults me by calling on me in a carriage. What right 
has she to a carriage more than I ? " 

Geffrard was personally brave, which characteristic 
is not Aoo common among his countrymen, who are 
rather wanting in martial qualities. He had no idea of 
true liberty, nor of freedom of discussion. A son of a 
black Minister wrote a pamphlet in favour of strict 
protection for the manufactures of Hayti, in order to 
encourage native, industry. A young mulatto replied, 
demolishing with ease the absurd idea that manufac- 
tures could be readily established in a tropical country, 
which could only be made to prosper by encouraging 
agriculture. The father was offended by this liberty, 
and, to soothe his wounded feelings, Geffrard had the 
young mulatto arrested, put as a common soldier into a 
regiment, and set to work to carry on his head barrels 
of powder to a village five miles in the mountains. The 
argument was unanswerable, and it is no wonder that 
the pamphleteer became a protectionist, though I be- 
lieve that subsequently, when he was made a senator, 
he was inclined to return to his primitive views. 


If I wished to describe a clever mulatto of the most 
unscrupulous type, I should have selected the late 
General Lorquet, but I have already referred to him. 

There are among the mulattoes men eminently afjree- 
ablCj and perhaps the one who best pleased me was 
Au<Tuste Elie, at one time Minister for Foreicrn Affairs. 
He had been brought up in France, was highly edu- 
cated, and had an astonishing memory. My Spanish 
colleague and myself used to visit him almost every 
evening, and pass a pleasant hour in varied conversa- 
tion. One day my friend remarked, " I am often sur- 
prised at the knowledge shown by Auguste Elie, and 
the elegance of the language in which it is expressed." 
I replied, " This evening turn the conversation on agri- 
culture in the South of Trance." He did so, and he 
was again struck by the minute knowledge shown and 
the manner in which it was conveyed. On our return 
home, I opened the last number of La Revue des 
Deux Mondes, and showed him paragraph after para- 
graph which Auguste Elie had repeated almost word for 
word. I knew that he read the review regularly, and 
was persuaded he had not missed reading the article 
on the agriculture of that part of Erance which inte- 
rested him most, and his memory was so exact that 
he had forgotten nothing. I had often remarked his 
quotations, but he could digest what he read as well as 
remember. A few men like Auguste Elie would have 
given a better tone to Haytian society. 

A strong desire to appear what they are not is a 


defect from which the best-known Haytians are not 
free. A French colleague once called upon a Secretary 
of State, whose writings have heen compared to those of 
Flato, and found him, book in hand, walking up and 
down his verandah. " Ah ! my friend, you see how I 
employ my leisure hours. I am reading Demosthenes 
in the original." But the sharp Frenchman kept his 
eyes on the volume, and soon found that it was an 
interlinear translation. 

Every Haytian appears fully persuaded that his 
countrymen never seek office except for the purpose of 
improving their private fortunes, and the most precise 
stories of official robbery were falsely made against 
Auguste Elie and M. Banco, both Secretaries of State. 
At Auguste Elie's death there was little left for the 
family, and Madame Bance declined the succession to 
her husband's effects, as the debts were not covered 
by the inheritance. Liautaud Eth^art and M. Darius 
Denis, though long Secretaries of State, afterwards 
honourably supported their families, the one in retail 
trade, the other by keeping a school. 

Perhaps, as a rule, the accusation is well founded, 
and nearly all, black and coloured, believe in the say- 
ing, " Prendre I'argent de I'dtat, ce n'est pas \o\L" 

When I first arrived in Port-au-Prince a small club 
was formed among the foreigners, and one of the first 
rules was, " ISTo Haytian to be admitted." I asked why, 
and was answered, that they introduced politics into 
every place they entered. I soon found, however, that 


the real reason was that their society was disliked ; and 
one day, after listening for an hour or two to the criti- 
cism on the people — and be it remembered that half 
those present were married to Haytian ladies — I could 
not help remarking, " If I had such an opinion of this 
race, I would not have sought my wife among them." 
The married men looked foolish ; the bachelors laughed, 
and one of the former observed, " The women are so 
superior to the men." 

The following story shows some delicacy of feeling ; 
it is told by Mackenzie, and I have heard it repeated. 
When the decree was issued by Dessalines that mulatto 
children should inherit the estates of their white fathers, 
two young men met, and one said to the other, " You 
kill my father and I will kill yours;" which they 
accordingly did, and took possession of their estates. 
On another occasion, the Emperor Dessalines said to 
a young man who claimed to be a mulatto, " I don't be- 
lieve it, but you can prove it by going and poniarding 
your French friend." The man did not hesitate, and was 
accepted as a Haytian citizen. . A negro general, grand- 
father of a lady I knew in Hayti, went to Dessalines 
after the appearance of the decree to murder all the 
white French left in the island, and said, " Emperor, I 
have obeyed your decree : I have put my white wife 
to death." "Excellent Haytian," answered he, "but 
infernal scoundrel ! If ever again you present yourself 
before me, I will have you shot," — the only saying of his 
that I have seen recorded showing any human feeling. 

( 187 ) 



When the uews readied Paris of the massacres ia 
Port-au-Prince of the mulattoes by orders of the black 
President Soulouque in April 1S49, it is related that 
Louis Napoleon took the opportunity of saying in pre-' 
seuce of the sable representative of the republic, "Haiti, 
Haiti ! pays de barbares." Had he known all the par- 
ticulars relating to Vaudoux-worship and cannibalism, 
he would have been still more justified in so expressing 

There is no subject of which it is more difficult to 
treat than Vaudoux-worship and the cannibalism which 
too often accompanies its rites. Few living out of the 
Black liepublic are aware of the extent to which it is 
carried, and if I insist at length upon the subject, it is 
in order to endeavour to fix attention on this frightful 
blot, and thus induce enlightened Haytians to take 
measures for its extirpation, if that be possible. 

It is certain that no people are more sensitive to 
foreign public opinion than the Haytians, and they 
therefore endeavour to conceal by every means in their 


power this evidence of the barbarism of their fellow- 
countrymen. It is, however, but the story of the 
foolish ostrich over agaiij ; every foreigner in Hayti 
knows that cannibalism exists, and that the educated 
classes try to ignore instead of devising means to 
eradicate it. 

The only Governments which endeavoured to grapple 
with the evil were those of President GefFrard and Presi- 
dent Boisrond-Oanal, and probably they in some mea- 
sure owe their fall to this action on their part. 

The first question naturally asked is, " Who is tainted 
by Vaudoux- worship ? " I fear the answer must be, 
"Who is not?" This does not imply that they are 
tainted with cannibalism or have any sympathy with 
its practices or belief in its rites. But all fear it, and 
have an uneasy feeling that some of those about them 
may be affiliated to the sect. Hence mothers of the 
upper classes keep their little children ever near them, 
and are uneasy when they are out of sight, unless under 
the care of some old trusted follower. 

W^hat do the Haytian journals say ? " We have many 
well-to-do people {gens aises), but the services, the 
bamboulas (Vaudoux rites), and above all, the method 
of transmitting property, joined to concubinage, prevent 
great fortunes from being formed. But our well-to-do 
people, in what do they employ their capital ? In 
amusing themselves in the orgies of the Vaudoux, 

' Za Vcrite, October l6, l8S6. 


" Your readers must not for one moment fancy that 
the Vaudoux-worship is confined to the rabble ; on the 
contrary, generals high in official rank, together with 
their families, and well-to-do folks -belong to the lot; 
but their worshipping is done privately, while the lower 
classes, not caring a fig for public opinion, do it openly, 
their actions being connived at." ^ 

As far as my experience enables me to judge, no 
mulatto in a respectable position, except Generals Sal- 
nave and Therlonge, was ever accused of being mixed 
up with the cannibalism of the Vaudoux, nor yet any 
black educated in Europe. But it is notorious that the 
Emperor Soulouque was a firm adherent, and that the 
mulatto general, Therlonge, was one- of its high priests, 
and in his younger days used to appear at night in a 
scarlet robe performing antics in the trees. The credu- 
lous serpent-worshippers believed that he could fly like 
some foul bird of darkness. A late Prime. Minister, 
whose bloody deeds will be an everlasting reproach to 
his memory, was said to be a chief priest of the sect, 
and many others now in power whom I will not at 
present indicate. 

If persons so highly placed' can be counted among 
its votaries, it may readily be believed that the masses 
are given up to this brutalising worship. As more 
extensive inquiries are now made, the truth is becom- 
ing better understood, and it will yet be found that 

^ Correspondent (eye-witneas) of Danish paper, St. Thomas Tidende, 
of September 14, 1887. 


almost every Haytian of the lower orders is more or 
less connected with one or other of the Vaudoux sects. 
During the reign of Soulouq^ue a priestess was arrested 
for havingi performed a sacrifice too openly. When 
about to be conducted to prison, a foreign bystander 
remarked aloud that probably she would be shot. She 
laughed and said, " If I were to beat the sacred drum 
and march through the city, not one from the Emperor 
downwards but would humbly follow me." She was 
sent to jail, but no one ever heard she was punished. 

President Salnave, at first inclined to court the sup- 
port of the educated classes, kept clear of the Vaudoux. 
But when he found his advances repulsed — for the gross 
■debauchery at the palace prevented any respectable 
person from ever willingly entering it — and when the 
fortunes of the civil war that then raged began to turn 
against him (1869), he, from some motive or other, 
whether superstition, or the desire to conciliate the 
mass of his ignorant troops, went to consult a well- 
known Papaloi (priest) living near Marquissant, in 
the neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince, and there went 
through all the ceremonies that were required. He 
bathed in the blood of goats, made considerable pre- 
sents to the priests and priestesses, and then feasted 
with the assembly, who all gave themselves up to the 
lowest debauchery, and kept up these festivities so 
long that even the iron frame of the President gave 
way, and he was confined to his bed for many days 

vaudoux-worship and cannibalism. 191 

The fortunes of war still continuing adverse, Salnave 
again consulted the Papaloi, who insisted that he must 
now go through the highest ceremony; that the goat 
without horns must be slain, and that he must be 
anointed with its blood. If he agreed to this, then 
the priest assured him of certain victory over his 
enemies. Whether Salnave gave way or not I cannot 
say positively. His enemies of all classes declared he 
did ; his friends among the lower orders confirmed the 
story, but the few respectable people who adhered to 
his cause denied the truth of the accusation. I think 
the weight of evidence was more against him than 
for him. 

After the civil war was over and Salnave had been 
executed, we visited the little hamlet where these 
orgies had taken place. I never in my life had seen 
a more villainous set of negroes and negresses collected 
together, among whom we recognised several Papaloi 
by their knotted hair. They scowled at us as we 
passed their cottages, and would probably have liked 
to have stoned us; but as their protector was dead, 
they contented themselves with muttered curses. The 
Papaloi's house was in the midst of cultivated gardens 
and embowered in a beautiful grove of fruit trees, not 
far from the spring (Source Plaisance) which fed the 
bath where Napoleon Bonaparte's sister, Madame Le 
Clerc, used formerly to __b athe her lovely limha ancl 
hold high revel with he r_faYO urite follower s. When 
I first arrived in Hayti in 1863, there still lived an 


old negro who had watched from the thick bush the 
gambols of these French naiads. And from Pauline's 
bath, now in ruins, the Vaudoux-worshippers took 
the water used in cooking the flesh of their human 

To explain the use of the phrase " the goat without 
horns," I must notice that there are two sects which 
follow the Vaudoux-worship — those who only delight 
in the flesh and blood of white cocks and spotless white 
goats at their ceremonies, and those who are not only 
devoted to these, but on great occasions call for the 
flesh and blood of "the goat without horns,'' or of 
human victims. It is a curious trait of human nature 
that these cannibals must use a euphemistic term when 
speaking of their victims, as the Pacific Islanders have 
the expression of " long pig." 

When Hayti was still a Prench colony Vaudoux- 
worship flourished, but there is no distinct mention 
of human sacrifices in the accounts transmitted to us. 
In Moreau de St. Mary's excellent description of the 
island, from whose truthful pages it is a pleasure to 
seek for information, he gives a very graphic account 
of fetishism as it existed in his day, that is, towards the 
close of the last century. 

After describing certain dances, Moreau de St. M^ry 
remarks that the Calinda and the Chica are not the 
only ones brought from Africa to the colony. There 
is another which has been known for a long time, 
principally in the western part of the island (Hayti), 


and whicli has the name of Vaudoux.^ But it is not 
merely as a dance that the Vaudoux merits consi- 
deration; at least it is accompanied by circumstances 
which give it a rank among those institutions in which 
superstition and ridiculous practices have a principal 

According to the Arada negroes, who are the true 
sectaries of the Vaudoux in the colony, who maintain 
its principles and its rules, Vaudoux signifies an all- 
powerful and supernatural being, on whom depend all 
the events which take place in the world. This being 
is the non-venomous serpent, and it is under its aus- 
pices that all those assemble who profess this doctrine. 
Acquaintance with the past, knowledge of the present, 
prescience of the future, all appertain to this serpent, 
that only consents, however, to communicate his power 
and prescribe his will through the organ of a grand 
priest, whom the sectaries select, and still more by that 

^ On the African coast the word is Vodun. Burton mentions that 
the serpents worshipped at Whydah were so respected that formerly 
to kill one by accident was punished by death. Now a heavy fine is 
inflicted. Bosman states that the serpent is the chief god in Dahomey, 
to whom great presents are made. They are harmless ; white, yellow, 
and brown in colour, and the largest was about six feet long, and as 
thick as a man's arm. !Fergusson, in his introductory essay on " Tree 
and Serpent "Worship in India," mentions that at a place called Sheik 
Haredi, in Egypt, serpent-worship still continues, and that the priests 
sacrifice to them sheep and lambs. On the West Coast of Africa, women, 
when touched by the serpent, are said to become possessed ; they are 
seized with hysteria, and often bereft of reason ; they are afterwards 
considered priestesses. The whole essay of Tergusson is exceedingly 



of the negress whom the love of the latter has raised 
to the rank of high priestess. 

These two delegates, who declare themselves inspired 
by their god, or in whom, in the opinion of their 
followers, the gift of inspiration is really manifested, 
bear the pompous names of King and Queen,^ or the 
despotic ones of Master and Mistress, or the touching 
titles of Papa and Mama. They are during their whole 
life the chiefs of the great family of the Vaudoux, and 
they have a right to the unlimited obedience of those 
that compose it. It is they who decide if the serpent 
agree to admit a candidate into the society, and who 
prescribe the obligations and the duties he is to fulfil ; 
it is they who receive the gifts and presents which the 
god expects as a just homage. To disobey them, to 
resist them, is to disobey God himself, and to expose 
oneself to the greatest misfortunes. 

This system of domination on the one hand and of 
blind obedience on the other being well established, 
they at fixed dates meet, and the king and queen of 
the Vaudoux preside, following the forms which they 
probably brought from Africa, and to which Creole 
customs have added many variations, and some traits 
which betray European ideas ; as, for instance, the 
scarf or belt which the queen wears at these assemblies, 
and which she occasionally varies. 

The reunion for the true Vaudoux-worship, for that 

' Papa and Maman Roi, corrupted by the Haytians into Papaloi and 


■which has least lost its primitive purity, never takes 
place except secretly, in the dead of night, and in a 
secure place, safe from any profane eye. There each 
initiated puts on a pair of sandals and fastens round 
his body a number, more or less considerable, of red 
handkerchiefs, or of handkerchiefs in which that colour 
predominates. The king of the Vaudoux has finer 
handkerchiefs and in greater number, and one that 
is entirely red with which he binds his forehead as a 
diadem, A girdle, generally blue, gives the finishing 
stroke to the tokens of his resplendent dignity. The 
queen, dressed with simple luxury, also shows her pre- 
dilection for the red colour,^ which is generally that of 
her sash or belt. 

The king and queen place themselves at one end of 
the room, near a kind of altar, on which is a box where 
the serpent is kept, and where each adept can see it 
through the bars of its cage. 

When they have verified that no curious stranger 
has penetrated into the place, they commence the cere- 
mony by the adoration of the serpent, by protestations 
of being faithful to its worship, and entirely submissive 
to its commands. They renew, holding the hands of 
the king and queen, the oath of secrecy, which is the 
foundation of the association, and it is accompanied by 
everything horrible which delirium could imagine to 
render it more imposing. 

When the followers of the Vaudoux are thus pre- 
' Red, the royal colour at Mdra. — Bosman. 


pared to receive the impressions which the king and 
queen desire them to feel, they take the affectionate 
tone of a tender father or mother ; vaunt the happiness 
of those who are devoted to the Vaudoux ; exhort them 
to have confidence in them, and to give the proofs of it 
in all the most important circumstances of their lives. 

Then the crowd separates, and each one who may 
desire it, and according to his seniority in the sect, ap- 
proaches to implore the aid of the Vaudoux. Most of 
them ask for the talent to be able to direct the conduct 
of their masters. But this is not enough ; one wants 
more money ; another the gift of being able to please an 
unfeeling one ; another desires to reattach an unfaithful 
lover ; this one wishes for a prompt cure or long life ; 
an elderly female comes to conjure the god to end the 
disdain with which she is treated by the youth whose 
affection she would captivate; a young one solicits 
eternal love, or she repeats the maledictions that hate 
dictates to her against a preferred rival. There is not 
a passion which does not give vent to its vow, and crime 
itself does not always disguise those which have for 
object its success. 

At each of these invocations, the king of the Vau- 
doux appears absorbed in thought; the spirit seizes 
him ; suddenly he takes hold of the box in which the 
serpent is confined, places it on the ground, and com- 
mands the queen to stand on it. As soon as the sacred 
ark is beneath her feet, the new Pythoness is filled by 
the spirit of the god ; she trembles, all her body is in a 


state of convulsion, and the oracle speaks by her mouth. 
Now she flatters and promises happiness, now she bursts 
into reproaches ; and according to her interest, her wishes, 
or her caprice, she dictates as decrees without appeal 
everything which she is pleased to prescribe in the 
name of the serpent to this imbecile crowd, that never 
expresses the slightest doubt of the most monstrous 
absurdity, and that only knows how to obey what is 
despotically dictated to it. 

After all the questions have received some kind of 
an answer from the oracle, many of which are not 
without ambiguity, they form a circle, and the serpent 
is again placed on the altar. Then his followers bring 
as tribute the objects they think most worthy ; and that 
no jealous curiosity should raise a blush, the offerings 
are placed in a covered hat. The king and queen then 
promise that the offerings shall be accepted by their 
god. It is from this collection that the expenses of 
the meetings are paid, that aid is afforded to absent 
members, or to those present who may be in want, or 
to others from whom the society may expect something 
in favour of its glory or renown. 

They now propose and settle their future plans, they 
consider what is to be done, and all this is declared by 
the queen as the will of the god. Often these plans 
have not for their object either good order or public 
tranquillity. A fresh oath, as execrable as the first, 
engages each one to be silent as to what has passed, to 
aid in what has been settled ; and sometimes a vase in 


■which there is the blood of a goat, stUl warm, seals on 
the lips of those present the promise to suffer death 
rather than reveal anything, and even to inflict it on 
any one who may forget that he is thus so solemnly 
bound to secrecy. 

After these ceremonies commences the dance of the 

If there be a new candidate for admission to the 
order, it is by the following ceremony that the f&te, 
commences. The Papaloi with some black substance 
traces a large circle, and in this the novice is placed ; a 
packet of herbs, horse-hair, pieces of horn, and other 
trifling objects is put into his hand. Then lightly 
touching him on the head with a wooden wand, the 
Papaloi thunders forth an African song, which is re- 
peated in chorus by those who stand around the circle ; 
then the new member begins to tremble and to dance, 
which is called to practise Vaudoux. If unhappily 
excess of excitement makes him leave the circle, the 
song immediately ceases, and the king and queen turn 
their backs on him to avert the evil omen. The dancer 
recollects himself, re-enters the circle, trembles, drinks, 
and arrives at length at so convulsive a state, that the 
priest orders him to stop by striking him lightly on 
his head with a wand, or, if that signal be not attended 
to, with a heavy kourbash. He is then taken to the 
altar to swear secrecy, and from that moment he 
belongs to the sect. 

This ceremony over, the king places his hand or his 


foot on the box in which the serpent is confined, and 
soon becomes agitated. This impression he communi- 
cates to the queen, and from her it gains the whole 
crowd, and every one commences certain movements, 
in which the upper part of the body, the head, and 
shoulders, appear to be dislocated ; the queen above all 
is a prey to the most violent agitation. From time to 
time she approaches the serpent in order to add to 
her frenzy; she shakes the box, and the hawk-bells 
attached to it sound like a fool'sjbauble, and the excite- 
ment goes on increasing. This is augmented by the use 
of spirituous liquors, which the adepts do not spare. 
With some, fainting fits follow ; with others, a species of 
fury; but a nervous trembling seizes them all, which 
they appear unable to master. They go on spinning 
round, and in their excitement some tear their clothes, 
others bite their own flesh; then again many fall to 
the ground utterly deprived of consciousness, and are 
dragged into a neighbouring dark apartment. Here in 
the obscurity is too often a scene of disgusting prostitu- 
tion. At length lassitude puts a end to these demo- 
ralising scenes, to be renewed again at a date which is 
carefully settled beforehand. 

In studying this account, freely taken from Moreau 
de St. M^ry, I have been struck how little change, 
except for the worse, has taken place during the last 
century. Though the sect continues to meet in secret, 
they do not appear to object to the presence of their 
countrymen who are not yet initiated. In fact, the 


necessity of so much mystery is not recognised, since 
there are no longer any French magistrates to send 
these assassins to the scaffold. 

Notwithstanding their efforts to keep white men far 
from their sacrifices, two Frenchmen and one American 
succeeded in being spectators on different occasions. 

At a dinner at the Episcopal palace in 1869, where 
I and my Spanish colleague were guests, I sat by the 
side of Monseigneur Guilloux, the Archbishop of Port- 
au-Prince, and heard him give the following account 
of what had occurred the preceding week. A French 
priest (pointing to a young cur^ who was sitting on 
the other side of the table), who had charge of the 
district of L'Arcahaye, had a strong desire to witness 
the Vaudoux ceremonies, and he persuaded some of his 
parishioners to take him to the forest where a meeting 
of the sect was to be held. They were very unwilling 
to comply with his request, saying that if discovered, 
he and they would be killed ; but he promised faithfully 
that, whatever happened, he would not speak a word. 
They blacked his hands and face, and disguising him 
as a peasant, took him with them. 

During General Salnave's Presidency the Vaudoux 
sectaries were so seldom interrupted in their ceremonies 
that few precautions were taken against surprise, and 
the neighbouring villagers flocked to the scene. With 
these the Catholic priest mixed, and saw all that passed. 
As in the previous description, the people came to ask 
that their wishes should be gratified, and the Mamanloi 


stood on the box containing the serpent. At first 
she went into a violent paroxysm, then into a sort of 
half-trance, when she promised all that they could 
desire. A white cock and then a white goat were 
killed, and those present were marked with their blood. 
Up to this point, it appeared as if Monseigneur were 
repeating some pages from Moreau de St. Mdry, but 
it soon changed. He continued : — Presently an athletic 
young negro came and knelt before the priestess, and 
said, " Oh Maman, I have a favour to ask." " What is 
it, my son ? " " Give us to complete the sacrifice the 
goat without horns." She gave a sign of assent ; the 
crowd in the shed separated, and there on the floor was 
a child sitting with its feet bound. In an instant a 
rope, already passed through a block, was tightened, the 
child's feet flew up towards the roof, and the Papaloi 
approached it with a knife. The loud shriek given by 
the victim aroused the cur^ to the truth of what was 
going on. He shouted, " Oh, spare the child ! " and 
would have darted forward, but he was seized by his 
friends around him and literally carried away. There 
was a short pursuit, but the French priest got safely 
back to the town. He tried to rouse the police to 
hasten to the spot, but they would do nothing. In the 
morning they accompanied him to the scene of the 
sacrifice, where they found the remains of the feast, and 
near the shed the boiled skull of the child. 

The authorities at L'Arcahaye were exceedingly in- 
censed with the priest for his interference, and, under 


pretence that they could not answer for his safety, 
shipped him off to Port-au-Prinee, where he made his 
report to the Archbishop. 

Those who would deny that cannibalism exists in 
Hayti are accustomed to say, " You have no proofs ; it 
is all hearsay evidence." What could be more direct 
than the testimony of this cur4, who was sitting oppo- 
site to us, and listening to the Archbishop during the 
whole recital ? It is curious that the Haytian newspaper 
La VdriU refers to the well-to-do people of L'Arcahaye 
amusing themselves in the orgies of the Vaudoux, and 
this as late as October 1886, seventeen years after the 
French cur^ had witnessed these Vaudoux rites at the 
same place. 

Another Frenchman, who resided in a village in the 
southern department, witnessed the whole ceremony, 
and as he remained silent, was undiscovered; but on 
its being rumoured that he had been a spectator of the 
sacrifice, his wife's Haytian family insisted on his leaving 
the district, as his life was in danger. 

I should have hesitated to quote the following account, 
as being only that of an anonymous correspondent of an 
American paper, but having discovered the identity of 
the gentleman who was actually present at the human 
sacrifice, and whose testimony I am assured on good 
authority can be implicitly accepted, I publish it as 
another proof of the hideous practices carried on in 
the Pearl of the Antilles under the enhs^htened rule of 
General Salomon. 


"Last spring (1886) I spent some weeks in Cap 
Haitian, one of the largest and most important cities 
in Hayti, and while there I met a number of Dominican 
gentlemen, who for various reasons had been compelled 
to spend a long time in the sister republic. These 
gentlemen talked a great deal about the existence of 
cannibalism, and insisted tha4; its existence was not, as 
all Haytians claim, merely in the minds of the writers 
who desire to publish sensational stories. I had shut 
my ears and eyes to the customs of the country-people, 
and moreover, I never allowed myself to think it pos- 
sible that such horrible practices as these gentlemen 
assured me were common existed. Therefore I tried 
in every way I consistently could to disabuse them of 
the illusions which I thought they entertained. Among 
these Dominicans was one who, irritated by my constant 
denials, determined to prove to me that his assertions 
were true. In April (1886) the workers on one of the 
coffee-plantations near Le Cap intended to have some 
kind of demonstration in honour of one of their super- 
stitious observances, and my friend learnt that, inci- 
dental to the Vaudoux-worship (which, by the way, 
unaccompanied by human sacrifices no Haytian will 
deny exists), there would be a human sacrifice. In 
some manner my friend had ingratiated himself with 
certain of the negro labourers who were to attend the 
sacrifices, and induced them to allow him and me to 
be present also. On the evening of April 19, he came 
to my house, where both of us dressed ourselves in the 


ordinary country working-man's costume, and then had 
our hands and faces well blacked by the negro who was 
to conduct us to the Vaudoux temple. To reach the 
temple we rode out over the smooth waggon-road 
which runs to and through the place called Haut-du- 
Cap, and when we had gotten about three miles beyond 
the little tavern in that place, where everybody stops 
for refreshments, our conductor suddenly left the high- 
way, and by a little winding bridle-path led us up 
the big mountain to a spot about half-way up the 

" Here the negroes had constructed a rude wooden 
shanty among the trees, and where it could be hardly 
noticed by any passer-by, if such there might be in 
that lonely quarter. Into this miserable hut we were 
ushered by our guide, who, to obtain admittance, uttered 
some signal words to the two brawny negroes who 
stood guard at the entrance, and who closely inter- 
rogated every person who entered. We were appa- 
rently a little late. In the single room there was a 
motley crowd of negroes, men and women, congregated 
round a sort of wooden throne erected in the centre of 
the room. On this throne, arrayed in many coloured 
long gowns and adorned with much tawdry finery, 
there sat on chairs, draped with flaming red cloth, a 
man and a woman. They were the Papaloi and 
Mamanloi, or priest and priestess, of the order of the 
Vaudoux. At their feet was the box which contained 
the 'holy serpent,' which was being worshipped by 


this ungodly assemblage. Behind the throne was 
stretched across from wall to wall a red cloth partition, 
which divided the room, or rather which made another 
and smaller apartment behind it. As we entered, the 
people were singing a chant low and monotonous, and 
at a sign from our mentor, we, my friend and I, joined 
it. When this chant had been finished, there succeeded 
an interval of deathly quiet, during which the wor- 
shippers appeared to be engaged in prayer. Suddenly 
the silence was broken by the priest, who with violent 
gestures, and almost shrieking his words, harangued 
his audience for ten or fifteen minutes. He told them 
there was but one thing to do by which they might 
obtain spiritual as well as temporal reward — to adore 
the serpent and obey implicitly and without question 
its slightest order. The attitude of the people showed 
that they comprehended the injunction and would 
obey. When he had wrought the crowd to a suffi- 
ciently high pitch of enthusiasm, the priest suddenly 
dropped his talk, and bursting into the chant again, 
was immediately joined by the others. A weird dance 
followed, the people singing as they danced, and 
gradually becoming almost delirious in their fervour. 
The place was soon in an awful tumult, some of the 
women, who especially seemed to have lost all control 
over themselves, even climbed up to the rafters, wrig- 
gling their bodies, hissing, and trying in every way to 
imitate the movements of the snake. 

" This ghastly dance was continued for two hours or 


more, when silence was again produced by the appear- 
ance from behind the red curtain of two men leading 
by the hands a little trembling negro boy in white 
robes. The child was led to the throne, and mounting 
it, he prostrated himself twice before the man and 
woman seated there. The Papaloi, holding his hands 
over the boy's head, blessed him in the name of the 
sacred serpent, and then asked him in pompous lan- 
guage what he most desired in the world. The little 
fellow, glancing up into the faces of his .two conductors, 
replied (and the reply had evidently been taught him), 
' That object above all other objects in the world which 
I most desire is the possession of a little virgin.' 
Hardly had he spoken when from the encurtained 
apartment came two women leading a negro girl of 
four or five years, also dressed in the purest white. 
The second child was led to the throne and stood con- 
fronting the boy. Again the boy was asked what he 
most desired, and when he repeated his former answer, 
both he and the girl were at once thrown down on their 
backs and bound hand and foot. 

" A burly negro, knife in hand, separated himself from 
the crowd, who had been watching the proceedings with 
breathless interest, and mounted the throne. Eeaching 
the boy, he said something to the men, who with their 
hands over his mouth were trying to stop the little 
fellow's cries, and they held their victim by the feet 
up in the air. With a single slash across the little 
throat, the brutal executioner killed the child, and the 


others held him whilst his life-blood gushed into the 
receptacle placed below to receive it. 

" At this moment an involuntary exclamation of horror 
escaped me, and immediately all eyes were turned 
towards me, looking with distrust and suspicion. The 
horrible proceedings on the throne were suspended, and 
a hasty consultation was held there among the people 
on it. Fearing for my life, and obeying a slight signal 
from our guide, I somehow got out of the door, mounted 
my horse, and rode as hard as I could to the town. The 
worshippers did not suspect I was a white man. They 
assumed probably that I was a novice and not yet 
hardened to the sight. At any rate, I was not pursued, 
and my friend was not interfered with. He remained 
until the end, joined me that night, or rather morning, 
and told me that the little girl had been killed in the 
same manner as the boy, and that then the bodies had 
been cut up, cooked, and eaten by the wretches. The 
whole awful orgie was ended only when every person 
present had become helplessly intoxicated." — The New 
York World, December 5, 1886. 

The American gentleman who wrote the above 
account will not, I am sure, object to have his name 
published as soon as his business relations with Hayti 
have ceased. He gave a full account of what he had 
seen to a friend of mine long before he knew that I 
had written so fully on the subject. 

In the year 1873, an intimate Haytian friend, edu- 
cated in France, the proprietor of an estate out on the 


plain of the Cul-de-Sac, invited me to spend a fortnight 
with him in the country, promising to show me all the 
superstitious practices of the negroes. I regret I did 
not accept, as at all events I should not have been 
called upon to witness a murder, and might have seen 
something hew. 

The temples of the Vaudoux-worshippers, called 
Humfort, are to be found in every district of the 
country. They are in general small, though one I 
visited in the interior was spacious, and was papered 
with engravings from the Illustrated London News, and 
the walls were hung with pictures of the Virgin Mary 
and of various saints. I may notice that in every one 
I found similar adornments. 

In the largest temple a Catholic priest had even said 
mass during his inland tours ; and though he could not 
prove it, he shrewdly suspected that the Vaudoux- 
worship was carried on there during his long and fre- 
quent absences. He showed me many very curious 
polished stones of various forms which he had induced 
a disciple to give up to him. One was a stone axe in 
the shape of a crescent ; and the negroes said they had 
been brought from Africa and formed part of the relics 
they worshipped. I believe my informant obtained 
these stones from a young negress during the absence 
of her husband, who was very indignant on discovering 
their loss. The French priest destroyed them to prevent 
their falling again into the hands of his congregation. 

Besides various Christian emblems, I found in one of 


the temples a flag of red silk on -which was worked 
the following inscription: — " Soci^t(5 des Fleurs za 
Dahomian," whatever that may refer to. This flag was 
said to have been the gift of the Empress, the consort 
of the Emperor Soulouque, a faithful follower of the 

Once whilst strolling with a friend, M. Barthomieux 
(since dead), in the mountains at the back of La Coupe, 
about six miles from Port-au-Prince, I was shown 
another small temple. As the guardian was a sort of 
dependent of the Haytian gentleman who was with 
me, we were allowed to enter, and were shown a 
box under a kind of altar, in which we were told the 
serpent was confined ; but we could not induce the man 
to let us see it, as he feared the anger of the Papaloi. 
My companion, a Haytian, had often seen this slimy 
god, but my being a white man was a bar to my being 
indulged in a similar privilege. These serpents are fed 
on frogs, mice, and other small game. 

I have remarked that the temples are generally in- 
significant buildings, but to accommodate the crowd, per- 
manent or temporary sheds are erected near, and there 
is generally the Papaloi's or guardian's house besides, in 
which to take shelter from the weather or carry on their 

The Papalois may be generally distinguished by the 
peculiar knotting of their curly wool, which must be a 
work of considerable labour, and by their profusion of 
ornaments. We noticed the former peculiarity at the 


trial of some sorcerers, whilst the jailors probably had 
relieved them of the latter. I have frequently remarked 
these knotted-headed negroes, and the attention they 
received from their sable countrymen. 

When incidents relating to the Vaudoux- worship are 
spoken of in Haytian society, native gentlemen will 
generally attempt to turn the conversation ; and if 
you persist, they say you have been imposed- upon or 
the events have been exaggerated. But the incidents 
I am about to relate formed the subject of a trial before 
a criminal court, and are to be found detailed in the 
Moniteur Haytien, the Haytian official journal, of the 
months of January, Tebruary, and March 12,64, ^■nd I 
was present during the two days the inquiry lasted. 

The trial occurred during the Presidency of General 
Geffrard, the most enlightened ruler that country pos- 
sessed since the time of President Boyer ; it too plainly 
proved that the fetish-worship of the negroes of Africa 
had not been forgotten by their descendants, and in a 
manner not to be denied by any one ; and, in fact, no 
one did gainsay the evidence, and the attention of the 
whole country was drawn to the subject of serpent-wor- 
ship and cannibalism. As the case greatly interested 
me, I made the most careful inquiries, and followed it 
in its most minute particulars. It is worth while re- 
lating the whole story in its disgusting details, as it is 
one of the truth of which there is not the shadow of a 

A couple of miles to the west of Port-au-Prince lies 


the village of Bizoton, in which there lived a man named 
Congo Pelle. He had been a labourer, a gentleman's 
servant, an idler who was anxious to improve his posi- 
tion without any exertion on his own part. In this 
dilemma he addressed himself to his sister Jeanne, 
who had long been connected with the Vaudoux, and 
was, in fact, the daughter of a true African priestess, 
and herself a well-known Mamanloi, and it was settled 
between them that about the New Year some sacrifice 
should be offered to propitiate the serpent. A more 
modest man would have been satisfied with a white 
cock or a white goat, but on this solemn occasion it was 
thought better to offer a more important sacrifice. A 
consultation was held with two Papalois, Julien Mcolas 
and Flor^al Apollon, and it was decided that a female 
child should be offered as a sacrifice, and the choice 
fell on Claircine, the niece of Jeanne and Congo. 

This was the ofBicial account as given in court, not to 
have the undoubted fact go forth to the world that 
every year human sacrifices are offered to the serpent 
at Easter, Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve, and more 
particularly on Twelfth Night or Les Files des Bois. 

On the 27th December 1863, Jeanne invited her 
sister, the mother of Claircine, to accompany her to 
Port-au-Prince, and the child, a girl of about twelve 
years of age, was left at home with Congo. Immediate 
advantage was taken of the mother's absence, and 
Claircine was conducted to the house of Julien, and 
from thence to that of Flor^al, where she was bound 


and hidden under the altar of a neighbouring temple. 
In the evening, the mother, returning home, asked for 
her child, when her brother Congo told her she had 
strayed away. A pretended search was made by those 
in the plot, and another Papaloi was consulted. This 
man told the mother not to be uneasy, as the Maitre 
d'Eau or the spirit of the water had taken her daughter, 
but that in a short time her child would be restored to 
her. The woman believed or pretended to believe this 
story,and by thePapaloi's recommendation burnt candles 
before the altar of the Virgin Mary for the prompt 
return of her offspring ; — another proof of the strange 
mingling of Catholicism and Vaudoux-worship. The 
above was the evidence given by the mother in court, 
but nobody believed her to be really ignorant of the 
fate destined for her daughter, but superstitious dread 
of the priests kept her silent. 

On the evening of the 31st December a large party 
assembled at the house of Jeanne to await the arrival 
of the child, who had remained for four days bound 
under the altar. When the chief member of the sect 
came to the temple to bring her out, she, guessing the 
fate reserved for her, gave two or three piercing shrieks, 
which were soon stifled, and, gagged and bound, she 
was carried to Jeanne's house, where preparations were 
made for the human sacrifice. She was thrown on the 
ground, her aunt holding her by the waist, whilst the 
Papaloi pressed her throat, and the others held her 
legs and arms; her struggles soon ceased, as Flordal 


had succeeded in strangling her. Then Jeanne handed 
him a large knife, with which he cut off Claircine's 
head, the assistants catching the blood in a jar ; then 
Flordal is said to have inserted an instrument under 
the child's skin, and blowing through it, detached it 
from the body. Having succeeded in flaying their 
victim, the flesh was cut from the bones and placed 
in large wooden dishes ; the entrails and skin being 
buried near the cottage. The whole party then started 
for normal's house, carrying the remains of their victim 
with them. On their arrival, Jeanne rang a little bell 
and a procession was formed, the head borne aloft, and 
a sacred song sung. Then preparations were made for 
a feast. This was the evidence given in court by 
Eoseide Sumera, one of the prisoners. 

Koused by the noise caused by the arrival of the 
party, a young woman and girl sleeping in another 
chamber looked through some chinks in the wall and 
saw all that passed, — Jeanne cooking the flesh with 
Congo beans, small and rather bitter (pais congo), 
whilst Ploreal put the head into a pot with some 
yams to make the soup. Whilst the others were 
engaged in the kitchen, one of the women present, 
Eoseide Sumera, urged by the fearful appetite of a 
cannibal, cut from the palm of the dead child a piece 
of flesh and ate it raw. (This I heard her avow in 
open court.) Asked which were the nicest pieces of a 
young victim, she answered, laughingly, the palm of 
the hand and the inside of the leg. 


The cooking over, portions of the prepared dishes 
were handed round, of which all present partook ; and 
the soup being ready, it was divided among the assist- 
ants, who deliberately drank it. The night was passed 
in dancing, drinking, and debauchery. In the morning 
the remains of the flesh were warmed up, and the two 
witnesses who had watched the proceedings were invited 
to join in the repast; the young woman confessed that 
she had accepted the proposal, whilst the girl refused. 

Not satisfied with this banquet on human flesh, the 
priests now put this young girl in the place of Claircine, 
and she was bound and kept in the temple to be 
sacrificed on Twelfth Night. It came out in evidence 
that she had been decoyed to the house for that purpose, 
and that the young woman who was sleeping in the 
same room was in reality in charge of her. 

Fortunately the inquiries which Claircine's mother 
had made on the night of the disappearance of her 
daughter, and the whispers that a second girl was 
missing, roused the attention of an officer of police, and 
a search being made, the freshly boiled head of the 
murdered child was found among the bushes near 
Floreal's house, where careless impunity had led the 
assassins to throw it. A further search was then made, 
and the other remains of Claircine were found, as well 
as the girl bound under the altar. 

Fourteen persons were arrested, against eight of 
whom sufficient evidence could be obtained, and these 
were sent to jail to answer for their crime before a 


criminal court. The trial commeiiced on the 4th of 
February 1864, and lasted two days. Incidents were 
related in the course of the evidence which showed how 
the lower classes are sunk in ignorance and barbarity, 
and renewed the proofs, if any fresh proofs were re- 
quired, that the Vaudoux-worship is associated by them 
with the ceremonies of the Catholic religion, even the 
Papalois recommending the burning of tapers in the 
Christian churches, and the having crosses as well as 
pictures of the Virgin Mary strangely mingled on their 
altars with the objects of their superstition. 

Some members of the diplomatic corps decided to 
attend the trial ; we arrived early, and were placed so 
as to command a full view of the court. In the dock 
we saw the eight prisoners, four men and four women, 
with faces of the ordinary Haytian type, neither better 
nor worse. Their names were : — Julien Nicolas, a 
Papaloi; Mortal Apollon, another Papaloi; Guerrier 
TranQois, and Congo Pell^ uncle to the victim: the 
women, Jeanne Pell^, a Mamanloi, and aunt to the 
murdered girl ; Eos^ide Sumera, Ner^ide Francois, and 
Beyard Prosper. Some had been servants to foreigners ; 
others were gardeners and washerwomen. 

The French procedure is observed in all trials in 
Hayti, and to an Englishman the procedure. as practised 
in that republic is contrary to the first principles of 
justice. The prisoners were bullied, cajoled, cross- 
questioned in order to force avowals ; in fact, to make 
them state in open court what they were said to have 


confessed in their preliminary examinations. I can 
never forget the manner in which the youngest female 
prisoner, Eos^ide Sumera, turned to the public pro- 
secutor and said, " Yes, I did confess what you assert, 
but remember how cruelly I was beaten before I said a 
word ; " and it was well known that all the prisoners 
had at first refused to speak, thinking that the Vau- 
doux would protect them, and it required the frequent 
application of the club to drive this belief out of their 
heads. That prisoners are tortured even unto death is 
known to be a practice in Hayti. 

However this may have been in the present case, 
there on the table before the judge was the boiled head 
of the murdered girl, and in a jar the remains of the 
soup, the flesh, and the calcined bones ; and the avowals 
of the prisoners in court and the testimony of the 
witnesses were too clear and circumstantial to leave a 
doubt as to their criminality. 

As I have mentioned, I was in court during the two 
days' trial, and I never was present at one where the 
judge conducted himself with greater dignity. His name 
was Lallemand, and he was one of the few magistrates 
who had the courage to do justice even when political 
passion would have condemned victims unheard. 

Among those who gave their evidence was the young 
girl who had witnessed the ceremonies, and for whom 
was reserved the fate of Claircine. The judge called 
her to his side and gently asked her to tell the court 
what she had seen; but with a frightened look she 


started and burst into tears, and the judge looking up 
sharply, saw the prisoners making the most diabolical 
grimaces at the poor child. He then turned to the 
jury and said, in view of the intimidation attempted, 
he would do what was not strictly regular; the child 
should whisper the story to him, and he would repeat 
it to the court. He placed her with her back to the 
prisoners, and putting his arm round her, drew her 
gently to him, and said in a soft voice, " Tell me, chfere, 
what occurred." The girl in a very low tone began her 
testimony, but the silence in court was so profound 
that not a word she uttered was lost, and almost with- 
out faltering, she told her story in all its disgusting 
details; but her nerves then gave way so completely 
that she had to be taken out of court, and could not 
be again produced to answer some questions the jury 
wished to ask. 

Then the young woman, her companion of that night, 
was called, and she confirmed the account, and confessed 
that in the morning she had joined in the feast. The 
mother's testimony followed, and that of numerous 
other witnesses. 

The guilt of the accused was thus fully established, 
when one of the female prisoners, Eos^ide, in the hopes 
perhaps of pardon, entered into every particular of the 
whole affair, to the evident annoyance of the others, 
who tried in vain to keep her silent. Her testimony 
was most complete, and confirmed the other witnesses 
in every particular. 1 did in consequence suggest that 


her life should be spared, but President Geffrard re- 
minded me that it was she who had confessed in open 
court she had eaten the palms of the victim's hands as 
a favourite morsel. 

Jeanne, the old woman, though she had shown the 
utmost coolness during the trial, did at length appeal 
for mercy, saying she had only been practising what 
had been taught her by her mother as the religion of 
their ancestors. " Why should I be put to death for 
observing our ancient customs ? " 

They were all found guilty of sorcery, torture, and 
murder, and were condemned to death. 

I asked the public prosecutor whether he thought 
the mother was really ignorant of the fate reserved for 
her child. He replied, "We have not thought proper 
to press the inquiry too closely, for fear we should 
discover that she partook of the feast ; we required her 
testimony at the trial." After a pause he added, "If 
full justice were done, there would be fifty on those 
benches instead of eight." 

The execution took place on Saturday, February 13, 
1864, the authorities wisely selecting a market-day, in 
order that the example might have a greater effect. 
The following particulars relating to it I received from 
the American Commissioner, Mr. Whiddon, who was 
present at this last scene. The prisoners, men and 
women, were all clothed in white robes and white head- 
dresses, the garments reserved for parricides, and were 
drawn in carts to the place of execution, and all but one 


had a sullen look of resignation, and neither uttered a 
complaint, nor even a word, whilst the eighth, the young 
woman, Bos^ide, kept up a continued conversation with 
the crowd around her. 

Every effort was made by the Government to give 
solemnity to the occasion ; the troops and ISTational 
Guard were summoned, for even the word " rescue " had 
been pronounced. The principal authorities attended, 
and thoiisands of spectators gathered round the spot. 
The prisoners, tied in pairs, were placed in a line and 
faced by five soldiers to each pair. They fired with such 
inaccuracy that only six fell wounded on the first dis- 
charge. It took these untrained men fully half an hour 
to complete their work, and the incidents were so pain- 
ful, that the horror at the prisoners' crimes was almost 
turned into pity at witnessing their unnecessary suffer- 
ings. As usual, the prisoners behaved with great 
courage, even the women standing up unflinchingly be- 
fore their executioners, and receiving their fire without 
quailing; and when at last they fell wounded, no cry 
was heard, but they were seen beckoning the soldiers to 
approach, and Eos^ide held the muzzle of a musket to 
her bosom and called on the man to fire. 

The Vaudoux priests spread the report that although 
the deity would permit the execution, he would only do 
it to prove to his votaries his power by raising them 
again from the dead. To prevent their bodies being 
carried away during the night (they had been buried 
near the place of execution), pickets of troops were 


placed round the spot ; but in the morning three of the 
graves were found empty, and the bodies of the two 
Papalois and the Mamanloi had disappeared. Super- 
stitious fear had probably prevented the soldiers from 
staying where they had been posted, and as most of the 
troops belonged to the sect of the Vaudoux, they probably 
connived at rather than prevented the exhumation. 

Among those who attended the trial were the Span- 
ish charge d'affaires, Don Mariano Alvarez, and the 
well-known Admiral Mendez Nunez; but they were 
so horrified by the sight of the child's remains on the 
judge's table and the disgusting evidence, that they had 
precipitately to leave the court-house. For years after 
Congo beans were forbidden at our table. 

When the trial was over, I asked the public prose- 
cutor to give me copies of the depositions made and all 
the secret evidence collected, or, if too voluminous, to 
allow me to read them over. He agreed to do so, but I 
never was permitted to see them. I heard afterwards 
that President Geffrard had refused to sanction his 
showing them to me, as the President himself confessed 
to my Spanish colleague that, much as he had previously 
known about the practices of the Vaudoux, the revela- 
tions made in private to the police and to the magis- 
trates were so revolting, that he was ashamed to place 
them before the representative of a Christian country. 

President Geffrard behaved with great courage on this 
occasion, for though continued appeals were made for 
pardon, he remained firm. He was warned that such 


an execution would sap the attachment of the masses, 
but he insisted that the condemned should be executed. 
The example probably deterred others from openly com- 
mitting such crimes, or from committing them near 
civilised centres ; but when Geffrard quitted power, the 
sect again raised its head, and human sacrifices became 
common. We, however, heard little of these dreadful 
rites after the fall of Salnave. It can scarcely be said 
that civilisation is making progress ; it is more probable 
that the authorities, absorbed in their intrigues to main- 
tain their power, do not care to inquire too closely into 
the disappearance of children. But the natural affec- 
tion of parents is often stronger than superstition, and 
lately many of these cannibals have been arrested and 
punished. " Pressed by questions, Pierrine acknowledged 
to have thus poisoned many children ; " ^ that is, she 
threw them into a trance, then liilled them, and cooked 
their flesh into savoury dishes for her husband and 
intimate female friends. 

I believe that what I have just stated is the true 
explanation, and instead of there having been any im- 
provement, the subject is only ignored, as one likely to 
create difficulties. Instead of the country advancing in 
civilisation since the fall of Geffrard, it has indeed 
retrograded. Civil wars and the imbecile government 
of Nissage-Saget followed, and then again insurrections 
and civil wars. Whilst struggling for a precarious 
tenure of power, who was to think of the morals of 
1 L'CEil, June i8, 1887. 


the people? It cannot be supposed that under the 
government of General Domingue (1874 and 1875) 
Vaudoux-worship was discouraged, when it was openly 
stated and believed that his principal Minister was a 
Papaloi, and head of the sect in the southern province. 
His brutal character and love of bloodshed would add 
to the suspicion. Under the next President, Boisrond- 
Canal (1876-78), a decree was issued forbidding the 
Vaudoux dances, as under cover of these other rites 
were carried on ; but that decree has, I hear, been since 
repealed. During the last few years all these fearful 
practices appear to have extended. According to ac- 
counts published in the Haytian papers, to which I 
shall hereafter refer, people are killed and their flesh 
sold in the market; children are stolen to furnish the 
repasts of the cannibals ; bodies are dug from their graves 
to serve as food, and the Vaudoux reign triumphant. 

Don Mariano Alvarez, the Spanish chargi d'affaires, 
had a great liking for Haytian society, and lived much 
with certain families, and was very familiar with what 
was occurring in the country. His friends in intimate 
intercourse would tell him what they would not care 
to say publicly. I knew that he had sent to his Govern- 
ment many official reports on the subject of Vaudoux- 
worship, and I therefore requested him to furnish me 
with some extracts. He readily consented, and autho- 
rised me to publish them in any way I pleased, 
shall therefore make use of them, as they confirm my 
own inquiries. 


Mr. Alvarez's account of the Claircine incident 
differs only in a few details from mine, but he had 
not the same opportunities that I had fully to investi- 
gate it. He says: — "I have previously reported on 
the subject of the fetish sect of Vaudoux, imported 
into Hayti by the slaves coming from the tribes on tlie 
Western Coast of Africa, and mentioning the crimes of 
these cannibals. To-day I enclose an extract from the 
ofificial Moniteur, in which they have commenced to 
publish the process against four men and four women, 
who were shot near this capital on the 13th instant, 
convicted on their own confession of having eaten, 
in Bizoton, near Port-au-Prince, on the night of 31st 
December last, a young child of twelve years old, called 
Claircine, whose own aunt delivered her to these 
anthropophagi, and for having another child that they 
were feeding up to sacrifice, and eat on the first days 
of January, in commemoration of the feast of the King 
of Africa. I assisted at the trial, and there, appeared 
to have been no doubt that, if the public prosecutor 
had desired to verify the case minutely, not only the 
witnesses, but even the mother of the victim merited 
the same fate as the cannibals who were proved to 
have eaten her. 

" President Gefifrard, who is not afraid of the Vau- 
doux, although all the mountains and plains of this 
republic are full of these anthropophagi, with an 
energy which does him honour, has caused the autho- 
rities to throw down the altars, collect the drums, 


timbrels, and other ridiculous instruments which the 
Papalois use in their diabolical ceremonies, and in the 
district of Port-au-Prince has imprisoned many indi- 
viduals of both sexes, who, on being interrogated, con- 
fessed what had been the fate of other children who 
had disappeared from their homes and whose where- 
abouts were unknown." 

As an instance of what occurred in the time of the 
Emperor Soulouque, I may again quote the reports of 
the Spanish chargi d'affaires. In 1852, in consequence 
of a denunciation, General Vil Lubin, Governor of 
Port-au-Prince, arrested in the neighbourhood of that 
city about fifty individuals of both sexes. On examin- 
ing the house in which human sacrifices were offered, 
packages of salted human flesh were found rolled up 
in leaves. The authorities threw these into the sea. 
During the examination of the prisoners, they declared 
that among the members of the best families of the 
city were many associates of the society of the Vau- 
doux, and that if the authorities desired to be satisfied 
of this assertion, let them be permitted to beat the 
little drum. They would present themselves even to 
the Emperor Soulouque himself, for among the Vau- 
doux-worshippers no one under peril of his life would 
be wanting to his engagements. Perhaps there were 
similar revelations made during the judicial examina- 
tions in 1864, which induced President Geffrard to 
refuse me the permission to read over the deposition 
of the witnesses at the great trial. It confirms also 


the assertion of the Haytian journal, La Virit^, 
that "well-to-do people" (jgens aisis) joined in these 

In part proof of the above statement, Mr. Alvarez 
tells the following story : — One of the principal ladies 
of Port-au-Prince, rich, and of what are called the very 
best families, was found late at night by General 
Vil Lubin stretched out on the steps of the Catholic 
cathedral, wearing only the blue dress of the country 
negresses, without shoes, and going through certain 
incantations called wanga ; the Governor induced this 
lady to allow him to accompany her home. I knew 
the person to whom Mr. Alvarez alludes very well, and 
certainly she was one of the last women whom I should 
have suspected to have had anything to do with the 
Vaudoux. If this lady could be influenced by the 
Papalois, any one else in Hayti might readily be. 

I add some further observations of Mr. Alvarez, as 
they give the view held by a Catholic who represented 
Her Most Catholic Majesty, 1862:— "The delegate 
of His Holiness, Monseigneur du Cosquer, has left 
much disgusted with this country on account of the 
corruption of its customs, the dearth of religion among 
the sectaries of the Yaudoux, and the opposition and 
want of confidence with which he was met in what is 
called in Hayti civilised society. In order that you 
may appreciate the accuracy of the incidents which 
pass here, a simple relation of some of a very recent 
epoch will be sufficient to show the powerful influence 


exercised on the inhabitants by the sect or the society 
of the Vaudoux, so spread throughout the country; 
this, with other causes inherent in the race, to which 
it would be tiresome to refer, prove that Hayti is, of 
all the Eepublics in America, the most backward and 
the most pernicious in every point of view. From the 
same motive, I will not stop to speak of the origin of 
the fetish religion of the Vaudoux, or of the worship of 
the serpent imported from the tribes of the west coast 
of Africa by the slaves coming from that country, and 
I now pass to facts. 

"In the month of last August (1862) there died, in the 
section called Belair, a negro, and his body was taken 
to the Catholic Church. The defunct belonged to the 
society of the Vaudoux. The men and women who 
accompanied the corpse began to scream in the temple 
like those possessed of devils, and they commenced a 
scene such as might occur in mid- Africa. The AhM 
Pascal tried to re-establish order ; his request that they 
should respect the sacred precincts was useless; and 
the Abbe having refused, on account of this scandalous 
conduct, to accompany the body to the cemetery, the 
mourners fell upon him, seized him by the collar, and 
he had to fly to the sacristy, the interference of a 
foreigner alone saving him from further ill-treatment; 
but the tumult was so great, that even the cross which 
is used at funerals was broken to pieces. Two women 
were taken out fainting, and the rabble marched off to 
the cemetery to bury the body ; some arrests were made, 


but it is not known what punishment was inflicted, as 
the tribunals (authorities) always leave unpunished the 
misdemeanours of the sectaries of the Vaudoux, as I 
am going to prove." 

Mr. Alvarez then tells a horrible story, to which I 
shall refer in the next chapter. 

" In February 1862 a negro was taken prisoner at 
Ouanaminthe for having assassinated his father. He 
was condemned to death by the tribunals ; but he 
defended himself by saying that he had done no more 
than follow the orders of the serpent. In a few months 
he was set at liberty." 

" It is not long since that in one of the streets of 
Port-au-Prince was found at early morn the body of an 
unknown youth about twenty years of age who had a 
weapon piercing his heart, and attached to that a thin 
hollow cane. It was supposed that he had been as- 
sassinated in order to suck his blood. I might cite 
many other facts of which I have taken note, but what 
I have related appear sufficient for the object I have 
proposed to myself. The disappearance of children is 
frequent at certain epochs or seasons, and it is supposed 
that they are eaten by the cannibals of this society." 

" In the secret ceremonies of the Vaudoux the drink 
in use is the blood of animals (and of children) mixed 
with white rum ; and the Papalois, either from the im- 
moderate use they make of alcohol mixed with blood, 
or from handling the poisons they use in their devil- 
craft, die in general, although at an advanced age, 


covered with leprosy and incurable sores." I myself 
heard this stated in Hayti, but I fear that a few ex- 
ceptions have in this case made the rule. 
, " The people endure every possible oppression from 
the Papaloi, and if you ask them why they permit these 
vexations and the abuses which are committed, they 
answer, ' We are indeed obliged, unhappy that we are ; 
if we denounced our neighbours, certainly we should 
quickly die.' From which it may be inferred that they 
tolerate this conduct because they fear, and they fear 
because they know each other." This mutual dread is 
noticed by all foreign residents in Hayti; it even ex- 
tends to the higher classes. 

"The society of the Vaudoux, although now (1862, 
Presidency of General Geffrard) not so preponderant as 
in the time of Soulouque, who was one of its most 
believing followers, is very extended in all the Eepublic, 
but there are few initiated into its inner secrets ; they 
have their signs and symbols, and the society meddle 
in the politics of every Government which has existed 
in Hayti ; they sometimes sustain them, and in certain 
cases will act as a secret police, and the Vaudoux is 
looked on as one of the firmest props of the independence 
of the country." 

I may notice that the Papaloi lead the most debauched 
lives. They are feared by all, and the fear inspired 
is so great that few, if any, women among the lower 
orders would resist their advances. The notice of such 
important personages may probably be looked upon as 


an honour. Unlimited drink is the next idea of hap- 
piness to a negro, and in this the offerings of their 
followers enable the priests to indulge to their hearts' 

After studying the history of Hayti, one is not 
astonished that the fetish-worship continues to flourish. 
The negroes imported from the west coast of Africa 
naturally brought their religion with them, and the 
worship of the serpent was one of its most distinguishing 
features. St. M^ry writes of the slaves arriving with 
a strange mixture of Mohammedanism and idolatry, 
to which they soon added a little Catholicism. Of 
Mohammedanism I have not myself observed the faintest 
trace. When the negroes found the large, almost harm- 
less serpent in Hayti, they welcomed it as their god, 
and their fetish priests soon collected their followers 
around them. The French authorities tried to put 
down all meetings of the Vaudoux, partly because they 
looked upon them as political, but they did not succeed. 
Many of the tribes in Africa are to this day cannibals,^ 
and their ancestors no doubt imported this taste into 
the French colony. It was difficult at that epoch to 
indulge in it, as all the children of the slaves were 

' " In the fetish-house was found a kind of pie made in a large 
brass pan, which, on being examined, was found to contain portions 
of two human beings." — British Colony of Cape Coast Castle Times, 
December li, 1884. 

" In war-time they (the Niam-niams) eat those they have killed. 
Any individual, solitary and without relations, who dies is eaten in the 
place where he lived. Cannibalism is most prevalent among the tribes 
that live nearest the Congo." — Daily News, February 25, 1887. 


carefully registered, and their disappearance would have 
been immediately remarked ; they may, however, have 
made use of the expedients to which I will hereafter 
refer for producing apparent death. 

The remark I made when I first began to inquire 
into this subject may naturally suggest itself to others. 
If the majority of the Haytians be tainted by the 
Vaudoux, who is it that denounces these horrible 
crimes, and how could a remedy be found ? The 
answer is : that there are in Hayti, as I have before 
noticed, two sects of Vaudoux-worshippers ; one, per- 
liaps the least numerous, that indulges in human sacri- 
fices; the other, that holds such practices in horror, 
and is content with the blood of the white goat and 
the white cock. At one time during my residence 
in Hayti the police took no notice of the latter, and 
permitted them to carry on their ceremonies in Port- 
au-Prince in a large courtyard adjoining a house in 
which a friend of mine lived. To preserve as much 
secrecy as possible, the courtyard was hung round with 
cloth hangings, and watchmen were placed to keep 
prying eyes at a distance ; but my friend, though not 
curious, occasionally obtained a glimpse of the pro- 
ceedings. They in no way varied from those described 
by Moreau de St. Mery. 

In the country districts the Catholic priests say these 
fetish-worshippers call themselves " Les MysUres" and 
that they mix Catholic and Vaudoux ceremonies in 
a singular manner; the name probably refers to the 


rites they practise. I have been assured by many 
officers connected with the Haytian police, that if the 
followers of this sect did not secretly denounce to them 
the crimes committed by the others, it would be impos- 
sible for them to keep the assassin sect in check. It 
is probable that, acting in unison with these compa- 
ratively harmless savages, the Haytian Government 
might be able to do much, if ever they seriously desire 
it, to put an end to the shedding of human blood. 

I have been informed that, besides the goat and 
cock, the Vaudoux priests occasionally sacrifice a lamb. 
This idea they have probably taken from the Catholic 
Church — the paschal lamb. It is carefully washed, 
combed, and ornamented with bunches of blue ribands 
before being sacrificed. 

( 232 ) 



Many persons appear to think that cannibalism is a 
later importation than Vaudouxism, and came with the 
Africans freed by our cruisers. If it were so, the seed 
fell on good ground, as the practice has spread to every 
district of the Eepublic. This opinion, however, has 
no foundation, as Moreau de St. M^ry, in naming the 
different tribes imported into Hayti during the last 
century, says: — "Never had any a disposition more 
hideous than the last (the Mondongoes), whose depravity 
has reached the most execrable of excesses, that of 
eating their fellow-creatures. They bring also to Santo 
Domingo those butchers of human flesh, for in their 
country there are slaughter-houses where they sell 
slaves as they would calves, and they are here, as in 
Africa, the horror of the other negroes." 

This is a fitting introduction to this chapter, in which 
I shall treat of cannibalism as not connected with 
religious rites, and to the great knowledge shown by 
the Vaudoux priests of herbs as poisons and antidotes, 
which, though possibly exaggerated by some inquirers, 
is no doubt very great. 


In the following passages from Mr. Alvarez's official 
reports the first impression will be that there must be 
gross exaggeration. I thought so when I first read 
, them, but the more my inq[uiries extended, the less 
I was inclined to doubt them, and the facts elicited 
during recent trials in Hayti only confirm them. If 
not exactly true, it is the firm belief of all classes of 
Haytian society that they are so. During thirteen 
years I had the best opportunities of hearing the 
opinion of Presidents, intelligent Secretaries of State, 
the principal members of the medical profession, 
lawyers, merchants both foreign and native, as well 
as other residents who had passed a lifetime in the 
Eepublic, and the testimony was more or less unani- 
mous as to the profound knowledge of the qualities 
of herbs and of their application possessed by the 
Papaloi : — 

" The human imagination can scarcely conceive any- 
thing more absurd, more barbarous, or more ridiculous 
than the acts committed by these ferocious sectaries, 
who are called Papaloi, Papa Boco, and other names as 
stupid as they are ill-sounding. They produce death 
— apparent, slow, or instantaneous — madness, paralysis, 
impotence, idiocy, riches or poverty, according to their 

" It has happened on occasions that persons have 
retired to bed in the possession of their senses to 
awaken idiots, and remain in that state in spite of 
the aid of science, and in a few days to be completely 


cured when the causes which have produced the aliena- 
tion have ceased. One individual struck another ; the 
latter threatened him with impot&ncj. At the end 
of fifteen days he was paralysed in all his members.^ 
Following the advice of a friend, he consulted a Papaloi, 
who had the coolness to confess that he had himself 
sold to his enemy the phylter that had reduced him to 
that state, but that for the sum of about ;£'20 he would 
cure him. In fact, in a short time, by means of the 
remedies of the Papaloi, he was completely restored 
to health. And if it be doubted that these indi- 
viduals, without even common- sense, can understand 
so thoroughly the properties of herbs and their com- 
binations so as to be able to apply them to the injury 
of their fellow-creatures, I can only say that tradition is 
a great hook, and that they receive these instructions as 
a sacred deposit from one generation to another, with 
the further advantage that in the hills and mountains 
of this island grow in abundance similar herbs to those 
which in Africa they employ in their incantations." 

To show how the knowledge of herbs is extended 
throughout the population, I will insert here an account 

1 Burton, in his " Mission to the King of Dahomey," notices that the 
fetish priests are a kind of secret police for the despotic king, and 
exercise the same influence as in Hajti. They are supposed to be able 
to give health, wealth, length of days, and can compass the destruction 
of the applicant's foes, all for a fee. Bosman, in his account of the 
slave coast of Guinea, says that a negro who offered opposition to the 
priests was poisoned by them, and bp.came speechless and paralysed in 
his limbs ; and that if any woman betrays the secrets of the priests, she 
is burnt to death. 


of an incident brought in evidence at a trial which 
took place in Hayti on the 3rd June 1887: — "The 
dead child "was carried' to , the house of this officer, 
who had it placed in the presence of Pierrine, and who 
pressed her to restore it to life. Pierrine gathered some 
herbs in the neighbourhood, and made with them a 
curious beverage, which she administered to the child, 
who immediately recovered consciousness. This act 
produced great emotion among the population." I 
have taken this extract from an article published in 
the Haytian newspaper, L'CEil Of June 18, 1887. 

A. case occurred in i860 which was in reality so re- 
markable and drew so much public attention at the 
time, and was supported by evidence so ample, that 
there was no possibility of doubting it. It was first 
told me by one of the most eminent Haytian medical 
mpn in Port-au-Prince, and confirmed by another of the 
same nationality, who had been an eye-witness of some 
of the details and pledged his word as to their truth. 
I one day mentioned the story in the French Legation, 
as I was still somewhat sceptical, when, to my surprise, 
I found that it had been made the subject of an official 
report. Count M^jan, at that time chargi d'affaires, 
offered to give me the extract relating to this crime, 
with permission to make any use I pleased of it. 

The following are the particulars as received from 
my medical friends : — " The police having been informed 
that some shrieks had been heard at night in the 
cemeteiy of Port-au-Prince, went there in the morning. 


and found a grave disturbed, and near it an open coffin, 
and lying at its side the body of a lady -who had been 
buried on the previous day. A dagger had been thrust 
into her bosom, and as blood had flowed from the 
wound and covered her burial clothes, it was evident 
that she had been buried alive. Many arrests were 
made, but the affair was hushed up. It was currently 
reported, however, that the husband of the murdered 
lady had a mistress, whom he neglected after marriage, 
and that this woman had applied to a Mamanloi for 
aid. She received a sleeping potion, which she con- 
trived to have given to the lady during her first con- 
finement, and she was hurriedly buried, to be restored 
to consciousness in the graveyard at dead of night, with 
her rival armed with a dagger before lier. Her shrieks 
drew the attention of some Jamaica negroes, who ran 
towards the spot shouting, but whom superstition pre- 
vented entering the cemetery. Their shouts, however, 
caused the murderers to fly and leave the corpse where 
it was found next morning." This is the story told me, 
as I have said, by my medical friends, and it was uni- 
versally believed to be true ; in fact, it was true, and 
was never denied by those in authority with whom I 
conversed on the_subject. 

The accounts given by my Trench and Spanish 
colleagues were more complete, and probably more 
exact, as they were both in Port-au-Prince when this 
tragedy occurred. My previous French colleague (the 
Marquis de Forbin Janson) wrote, 2nd August i860: — 


" Two days after my arrival at Port-au-Prince a 
woman sent to sleep by means of a narcotic and buried 
the same evening in the cemetery of the town was dis- 
interred during the night. She still breathed. They 
killed her and carried away the brain, the heart, and 
the liver of the victim, the remains of the body being 
found near the grave. Next day an inquiry was ordered; 
several persons were arrested, among others a priestess 
of the Vaudoux (a Mamanloi). This woman made 
some revelations, and even offered to deliver up to 
justice the authors of the murder and the profanation, 
drawing them to prison by an irresistible power, by 
beating on her drum in a particular manner. But the 
judicial authorities, already startled by the number and 
the importance of the persons implicated, drew back 
before this new test. They ordered the journals to be 
silent, and the affair was hushed up. It is thought that 
the principal motive of the crime was a sentiment of 
vengeance, but they hold for certain that the mutilated 
parts of the body were destined for the celebration of 
some Vaudoux rite of the African fetishism still prac- 
tised, whatever they may say, by the great majority of 
the Haytians." 

I think this case of so much importance, that at the 
risk of repetition I will give the oflScial report made by 
Mr. Alvarez : — " In July of i860 there was committed 
in Port-au-Prince a horrible, almost an incredible, crime. 
A young woman died suddenly, and was buried on the 
following (same) day. At night several individuals of 


both sexes went to the cemetery, dug up the coffin, and 
opened it. What they actually did is not known, but 
what is positive is, that the unburied began to shriek 
and shout for help. The guard near the cemetery, 
composed of Jamaicans, Louisianians, and Creoles, 
approached, and saw the woman sitting in the coffin, 
and various persons — a torch in one hand and a dagger 
in the other — vociferating words they did not under- 
stand. The Creole soldiers of the country fled dismayed, 
but the Louisianians, as soon as they had overcome the 
first feeling of terror, ran to the succour of the unburied. 
Already it was too late ; they found her dead from the 
stroke of a dagger, and her heart and lungs torn from 
her bosom. The assassins escaped, but subsequently 
some prisoners were made ; but in a few days they were 
at liberty; and it is related that the lungs and the 
heart had been cooked and eaten in one of the country 
houses at Bizoton." 

My friend, Auguste Elie, Secretary of State for 
Foreign Affairs, deplored but could not deny the truth 
of this story ; and having no Vaudoux prejudices him- 
self, having been born and bred in France, conversed 
freely on the subject, and told us many similai" par- 
ticulars that had come to his knowledge. 

Again I hear my readers say, " It may have been so 
in the past, but surely not now." I will therefore give 
two accounts of what occurred in 1887, taken from 
Haytian journals. This is what the clerical journal. 
La Viriti, of August 20, 1887, prints: — "A Geeat 


Scandal. — During the night of Sunday, August 7, they 
disinterred in the cemetery of Jacmel a certain Tifa, 
who had been buried on tlie afternoon of the previous 
Saturday ; certain parts of the body were carried away. 
By whom and for what purpose no one knows. It 
would be as well for the authorities to place a surveil- 
lance over the cemeteries to prevent such horrors." 

'Now I must quote a journal of opposite politics, 
edited by the indomitable Mr. J. J. Audain, whom no 
official anger can completely crush : — " A deed of un-. 
heard-of savagery occurred in the cemetery of this town 
(Jacmel) on the night of Saturday the 13 th (a week 
after the disinterinent of Tifa), on the body of the young 
L. Maximilien, buried on the afternoon of the same 
day ; and on Sunday, at three o'clock in the afternoon, 
people passing near the place saw the grave half filled 
up, and noticed on the ground a piece of the shroud. 
Notice was given to the authorities, who hastened to 
the spot with the relatives of the dead, and after having 
dug out the grave, they found the cover of the cofiia 
broken to pieces, the corpse resting on its side, an eye 
and a part of the face and the hair, and doubtless other 
parts of the body, carried away. His shoes had also 
been removed. This act of abomination and savagery 
has produced consternation among those who are anxious 
to see the country advance in the path of civilisation, 
A second letter from Jacmel informs us that the whole 
head was removed, and that the body had received a 
wound near the heart. The letter adds: — 'Was his 


heart also carried away ? ' " — Le Peuple of August 20, 

Jacmel has a very unsavoury reputation in all matters 
relating to Vaudoux sacrifices, the eating of children, 
and the digging up of corpses to be used as food. 

Of the truth of the following instance of a child 
being placed under the influence of narcotics in order 
that, by a pretended burial, its disappearance might 
not draw attention, I have the testimony of ocular 
witnesses. A foreign lady with whom I was personally 
acquainted, hearing that a child living near her house 
was ill, went down to see it; she found it lying in 
a stupefied state in its mother's lap. Her suspicions 
were immediately aroused, and she sharply questioned 
the mother as to what had been done to the child. Her 
answers were so unsatisfactory, yet so mournful, that 
my friend determined to keep a watch on the case. 
She called in the evening, and was told that the child 
was dead. She insisted on seeing the corpse, and 
found that though the heart was still and the pulse had 
ceased to beat, yet the child did not look dead, and re- 
marked this to the by-standers, but they answered as if 
in chorus, " Yes, it is dead." She told the mother that 
she was not satisfied, and that she would return in the 
morning with her husband, and that in the meantime, 
the body must not be buried. Next day she and her 
husband walked down to the house and asked to see 
the body. The mother replied that the neighbours 
having insisted, she had allowed them to bury her child. 


and pointed out the grave. The French gentleman 
called to some of his labourers and had the grave 
opened; there they found the coffin, but the child's 
body was absent. Arrests were made, but no one was 
punished. It will be seen, from the account I propose 
to give of a recent trial, that the child must have been 
drugged, then probably restored to consciousness to be 
used as a sacrifice or as food. It was by these means 
that the Papalois probably were enabled to obtain their 
victims during the French colonial period. 

It would have been useless to multiply instances of 
these horrible practices had not the truth of my state- 
ments been questioned, not only by some foreign writers, 
but even by those who are personally acquainted with 
the correctness of every detail. I refer to Haytian 
writers who are in the pay of their Government ; there- 
fore I may say that out of their own mouths will I 
convict them by quoting the accounts published in their 
own journals. 

What I have related in Chapter V. refers more or less 
to human sacrifices as connected with religion, and even 
the preceding paragraphs may relate more or less to 
fetish customs ; but there is another phase — cannibalism 
as practised for the sake of the food which the slaugh- 
tering of human beings affords to a vile section of the 

In Consul Hutchinson's paper on the traits of African 
tribes, published in the " Transactions of the Ethnological 
Society," New Series, vol. i., p. 338, he states: — "I 



have during the last year seen it stated in a Sierra 
Leone newspaper, on the authority of Mr. Priddy, a 
missionary of the Countess of Huntingdon's Connection 
in the colony, not that he had heard of, hut that he had 
seen, hampers of dried human flesh carried about on 
men's backs to be sold for eating purposes in the 
progress of a recent civil war between the Soosoo and 
Tisney tribes." ^ In Hayti it is worse, as they do not 
sell the flesh of their enemies as food, but that of their 
own neighbours, even sometimes of their own relatives, 
if not their own children. 

A lady, the widow of a missionary, who was forced to 
stay in the interior of Hayti (north-east of Gonaives), 
after the death of her husband, on account of the civil 
war in the surrounding districts in the years 1868 and 
1869, related some horrible incidents which were of her 
own knowledge. She declared that human sacrifices 
were constant ; that human flesh was openly sold in the 
market. One would willingly have believed in exaggera- 
tion ; but similar incidents which occurred during the 
reign of Soulouque, related to me by one so intelligent 
and truthful as Auguste Elie, Secretary of State for 

^ Barbot states that the common food of the natives of the kingdom 
of Ansiko (west coast of Africa) is man's flesh, insomuch that their 
markets are provided with it, as ours in Europe with beef and mutton. 
All prisoners of war, unless they can sell them alive to greater advan- 
tage, they fatten for slaughter, and at last sell them to butchers to 
supply the markets, and roast them on spits, as we do other meat (date 
1700). — "Churchill's Collection," vol. v. p. 479. Barbot also notices 
that the people of Jagos, Congo, and Angola were also cannibals. 


Foreign Affairs, compelled me to accept with firm belief 
the horrible stories she told in full detail. 

Monsieur Desjardins, an eminent French merchant 
in Port-au-Prince, remarked to me that whilst walking 
near Cap Haitien he met a party of soldiers beating a 
man with their clubs ; he inquired the reason, and they 
told their prisoner to open his basket, and there he saw 
the body of a child cut up into regular joints. 

The following are a few recent cases: — "PoET-AU 
Prince, February 1888. — Pteeently the body of a child 
was found near this city ; an arm and a leg had been 
eaten by the Vaudoux. During Christmas week a man 
was caught in the streets here with a child cut up 
in quarters for sale. Cannibalism still prevails, despite 
all the forced statements to the contrary. President 
Salomon, to please the masses, the negro element, allows 
them to dance a Vaudoux dance formerly prohibited." ^ 

" He (the French physician) declared to the World's 
informant that in the summer of 1884, whilst in Port 
de Paix (north coast), he had, while staying at a board- 
ing-house, the leg of a child served him as part of his 
dinner. Before discovering the nature of the dish he 
ate a small piece of the flesh, but disliking it, did not 
eat any more." ^ 

L'CEil, of Port-au-Prince, of June 18, 1887, gives a 
long account of the. trial of two women and one man as 
belonging to the society of children poisoners. They 

^ The Evening Post of New York, February 25, l888. 
' World ol New York, December 5, 1886. 


did not poison them unto death, but unto a death-like 
sleep, from which they were awakened to be killed and 
eaten. One woman, Pierrine Pierre Louis, was made 
to restore to consciousness in the presence of the police 
a chUd that its mother thought was dead. 

In this case the first person who was arrested was a 
woman named Laguerre. She withdrew from the trial 
by her own act, as, refusing all sustenance, she died of 
inanition. The other prisoners were the woman Do 
Oastin and her husband, Petithomme Morisset. 

Pierrine, after she had restored the child to conscious- 
ness, was pressed with questions regarding other chil- 
dren, and she then confessed that she had in the same 
way poisoned many little ones of the neighbourhood, 
among others those of Breville and Muscadin Parraison. 

Do Castin was denounced by her own sister-in-law 
as forming part of the society of children poisoners ; she 
confessed that she was a member of that society, but 
that she had never eaten human flesh, as had Madame 
Laguerre, Pierrine, and her own husband, Morisset. 

The jury brought in a verdict of guilty against the 
three prisoners, but with des circonstances atUnuantes. 
They were condemned to seven years' hard labour. The 
jury were quite satisfied with the testimony brought 
forward by the prosecution ; yet, though these prisoners 
were proved to be child-stealers, murderers, and canni- 
bals, they added the words with " extenuating circum- 
stances," to save them from capital punishment. The 
deaths of children in Hayti are so numerous that it is 


impossible for the population to increase rapidly ; the 
revelations made in these and other trials lead to the 
supposition that the population is being eaten down by 
this society of children poisoners, -which is scattered 
through every district of the republic. 

This is the matter-of-fact way in which the Haytian 
journal, Le Peuple, of June ii, 1887, refers to this 
trial: — "CRIMINAL Session. — Petit Homme Morisset, 
Pierre (Pierrine) Pierre Louis, et Descatin, accused of 
having, by the aid of witchcraft (or sorcery), poisoned 
several children of the first rural section of Grand- 
Go4ve, particularly those of the citizens Br^ville and 
Muscadin, Monfleury, Morisset, d'Exdna, and of CI60- 
melie Pierre Louis, — condemned to seven years of hard 
labour." Among the children eaten by these prisoners 
were those of their sister-in-law, Cleom^lie. 

Glancing over the Haytian papers one comes on such 
paragraphs as this : — " Numa Laferriere, an officer in 
the regiment of Tirailleurs, having lost a child last 
Sunday, was persuaded that this child had been taken 
and eaten by the woman Ald^, a neighbour of evil 
reputation." ^ He fell upon her with his club and 
nearly beat her to death. 

Or this : — " On Thursday the police arrested, stunned 
with blows, and then put in prison a stealer (woman) 
of children." ^ 

This woman was named Dedette. She had stolen a 

1 La TiriU, July 16, 1887. 
^ Ihid., September 3, 1887. 


little boy named Josepli Cambronne, aged from ten to 
eleven years, but he managed to escape from her whilst 
she was taking him to the woods. In her house the 
police discovered " a candle, of which the stench made 
them helieve that it was not composed only of wax."^ 
The same journal in the same number refers to another 
child recovered by the police. The practice of child- 
stealing is so common that but little attention is paid 
to it. 

Though the Haytians believe in the mythical " loup- 
garou" they have also the fullest faith in his counter- 
part among their fellow countrymen and countrywomen. 
It is the loup-garou who is employed by the Papaloi to 
secure a child for sacrifice in case the neighbourhood 
does not furnish a suitable subject ; and they are sup- 
posed to hang about lonely houses at night to carry off 
children. I have often heard my young Haytian ser- 
vants rush into my country-house laughingly saying 
they had seen a loup-garou ; their laugh, however, 
tinged with a kind of dread. They said that these 
human monsters prowled about the house at night, and 
that nothing but the presence of my dogs kept them in 
respect. I have occasionally seen the object of their 
fear. I went down one day to the outer gate, and look- 
ing through the hedge, saw one of the most hideous 
negroes possible ; he had the face of the proverbial ogre, 
with two long upper teeth protruding over his lower 
lip. As he stood near the gate, I approached and opened 

^ La YiriU, September 17, 1887. 



it, but the moment he caught sight of the faithful guar- 
dians that accompanied me, he shuffled off and dis- 
appeared down a neighbouring lane. The negroes have 
almost a superstitious terror of strange dogs. 

There is no doubt that these loup garous do carry- 
off many children, not only for the priests, but for the 
eaters of human flesh as food. They generally look 
only for native children, and I have only heard of one 
instance in which they attempted to carry off a white 
girl. She was snatched from the arms of her nurse 
whilst on the Champs de Mars by a huge negro, who 
ran off with her towards the woods ; but being pursued 
by two mounted gentlemen who accidentally witnessed 
the occurrence, he dropped the child in front of the 
horses to save himself from capture. In this instance 
there was little doubt but that the nurse had lent her 
co-operation to the Vaudoux or the cannibals. The 
little white girl of former years is now a happy wife 
in England. 

I read the following in a local Haytian paper : — " At 
Jacmel, on the southern coast, an old woman, a pro- 
fessional midwife, was lying on her deathbed surrounded 
by her neighbours, and they were somewhat surprised 
at her long struggles and loud groaning. At last she 
said, 'I cannot die in peace; lift aside the bed and 
dig underneath;' and on doing so, great was their 
astonishment to come on numerous small skeletons, 
which the old fiend acknowledged were the remains of 
children she had eaten. After this confession, they say, 


she died quietly. One cannot but be reminded of the 
horrible picture in the Wiertz gallery in Brussels of 
the woman cutting up and cooking the infant. It must 
have been painted under the influence of nightmare." 

Whilst I was in Hayti a woman was arrested within 
fifty yards of my gate, accused of having eaten the 
children of her neighbours. She also was a midwife. 

That the practice of midwives slaying children for 
the purpose of eating them is an old one in Hayti is 
proved by the following account related last century by 
Moreau de St. Mdry : — 

" They have had in Hayti proof that the Mondongoes 
had kept up their odious inclinations, particularly in 
1786, in a negress, a hospitable midwife on an estate in 
the neighbourhood of J^r^mie. The proprietor, having 
remarked that most of the negro babies died within 
eight days of their birth, had a watch put upon the 
woman ; she was surprised eating one of the children 
recently buried, and she confessed that with this design 
she had caused it to die." 

In 1878 two women were arrested in a hut near 
Port-au-Prince ; they were caught in the act of eating 
the flesh of a child raw, and on further examination it 
was found that they had first sucked all the blood from 
its body, and that part of the flesh had been salted for 
later use. 

I have several times referred to the information 
given me by the Secretary of State, M. Auguste Elie. 
He told me he knew the following incident as a fact 


which occurred during the reiga of Soulouque. A mau 
with whom he was personally acquainted was visiting 
with his wife in the plains of Oul de Sac, when she 
complained of feeling unwell, and they mounted their 
horses to return to town. At sunset a violent storm 
coming on, they determined to halt at a cottage they 
saw near. They entered and found two men and a 
woman there. His wife becoming worse, he determined 
to seek medical help in the village of Croix des 
Bouquets, but was a long time before he could find the 
Doctor to accompany him. On their arrival at the 
cottage he inquired for his wife, and the people said 
that, becoming uneasy at his long absence, she had 
followed him. They rode back to the village, and 
calling at the police station there, the husband induced 
the gendarmes to accompany him ; they surrounded 
the cottage, arrested the three inmates, and on search- 
ing the premises, found the body of the wife, already 
dismembered, in a cask in an outhouse, a thick layer of 
salt having been thrown over the remains. The only 
punishment these assassins received was that adminis- 
tered by the clubs of the police whilst conducting 
them to prison. After reading these accounts, how 
can we throw doubt upon Captain Kennedy's story of 
a barrel of so-called pork being sold to a merchant- 
ship at St. Marc, which on being examined was found 
to be human flesh ? 

In 1 869 the police arrested in that beautiful valley 
which lies to the east of Kens Koff, to which I have 


referred in my first chapter, about a dozen people 
accused of cannibalism, and brought them bound to La 
Coupe. They had been denounced by the opposing 
sectaries of the Vaudoux, Les Myst^res. From the 
time they were taken from their houses till their arrival 
at the village they were, as usual, beaten in the most 
unmerciful manner, and when they were in prison they 
were tortured by the thumbscrew, and by cords tight- 
ened round their foreheads, and under the influence of 
these they made some fearful avowals, in which, however, 
little confidence could be placed. A French priest with 
whom I was on very intimate terms, hearing of their 
arrest, had the curiosity to go and see them. At first 
they would not converse with him, but when they found 
him protesting against the inhumanity with which they 
had been treated, and threatening the jailor that he 
would officially report him should such conduct con- 
tinue, they placed more confidence in him. The priest 
visited them nearly every day, and had many conver- 
sations with them in private. They confessed to him 
that their avowals under torture were true ; and when 
the priest, horrified by the details, said to a mother, 
" How could you eat the flesh of your own children ? " 
she answered coolly, " And who had a better right, — est- 
ce que ce n'est pas moi qui les ai fait ? " ^ One of these 

^ Barbot, in his account of the Ansilio kingdom, says : — " That which 
is most inhuman is, that the father makes no difficulty to eat the son, 
nor the son the fatlier, nor one brother the other ; and whosoever dies, 
be the disease ever so contagious, yet they eat the flesh immediately as 
a choice dish." — Barbot, in " Churchill's Collection," vol. v. p. 479. 


prisoners died under the torture of the cord tightened 
round his forehead. 

The one bold Haytian, Monsieur J. J. Audain, editor 
and proprietor of Le Peuple, who had fearlessly stood 
forward to denounce this very peculiar institution, and 
endeavoured to urge the Government to put a stop to 
it, as far as lay in their power, nearly became a victim 
of his zeal. 

In Le Peuple of January 23, 1886, appeared the 
following article : — " Last week General Alfred Milord, 
commanding the town and commune of Grand-Go§,ve,^ 
accompanied by the chief of sections, proceeded to the 
arrest of ten or twelve men and women who carried 
on the business of killing people and selling their 
" meat " in the market at Grand-Go§,ve. The citizen 
who has informed us of this fact is one of the men 
most worthy of belief in that town. 

" WhUst conducting these people to prison a woman 
who had taken the Communion a few weeks previously, 
full of remorse, died on the road, and was buried on the 
roadside by the rural guard.^ A second, named Sophia, 
was brought into town fastened on a donkey ; she was 
recognised by the citizens, and the wife of our informant 
addressed her thus, ' How is this. Sister Sophia ? — you 
who have been the cook of Father Frehel, you who 
have taken the Communion scarcely a fortnight ago, 
you also are an eater of human flesh ! Ah ! you should 

^ See p. 244, trial of the children poisoners. 

^ That is, she died from the blows of the policemen's clubs. 


have killed yourself before permitting them to bring 
you here in this way.' 

"This Sophia, on reaching the police station, about 
twenty paces from the house of this lady, was taken 
dead from the back of the donkey, and the prisoners 
dug a grave and buried her.^ 

" The other anthropophagi declared that for some time 
past they had sold human flesh as pork in the market 
of Grand-Goave. They have made revelations which 
are of the highest importance, but most incredible, and 
which can only be believed if one could see them 
carried out or performed before oneself. We think 
that the authorities would do well to have a doctor, or 
even many of them, to be present when they show what 
they can do, see them take the life from a body (we are 
transcribing what they af&rm), then put it in a state 
of lethargy for thirty or forty hours, then go to the 
cemetery at night and restore to consciousness the 
apparent dead. These are things that should be seen, 
learnt, proved, and studied. We will return to these 
statements, which we would investigate thoroughly and 
know. These people must positively understand the 
properties of a thousand and one plants which could be 
employed pharmaceutically, and from which might be 
drawn their virtues, and by studying them make some 
useful discoveries. For if there are noxious qualities 

^ This was a mistake ; it was ITransoise who died another victim to 
the club, not Sophia. 


in certain plants, there must also be good ones — perhaps 

This article raised a storm in official quarters ; every- 
thing was promptly denied, except the arrests, which 
could not be denied (which were said to be for sor- 
cery, practice of magic, anything but murders or canni- 
balism). The editor was summoned before a migistrate, 
threatened with condign punishment, and ordered to 
publish the official contradiction in his paper. But no 
one was deceived ; every one knew that the article of 
the Peuple was founded on fact, and the very next year 
the trial of the children-poisoners was held in Grand- 

The cause of all this official excitement is thus naively 
acknowledged in the last paragraph of the article in 
the official Moniteur: — "It is more than astonishing 
that a journal belonging to a man, born a citizen of 
Hayti, should thus of deliberate purpose, 'de gaiU de 
cceur,' give the hand to Mr. Spenser St. John, and add 
to the abominable calumnies which have been with 
levity spread abroad by this person in a curious language 
of hatred, about this Haytian people, so hospitable, so 
well-disposed, so ready to follow the good path of reason 
and of progress" ^ 

The fact is, that every effort is being made to cover 
this horrible sore, not to cure it. Now and then maternal 
affection will defy superstition and appeal to the police, 

1 See p. 244. 

2 Le Moniteur Officid, February 4, 1 886. 


and then some arrests are made ; but how few of these 
cannibals are brought to trial, and when they are, how 
inadequate is the punishment! But, as LCEil Yeij 
justly remarks, Hayti is free and independent, and 
the people wiU defend to the death all their peculiar 

How few of those who have written about Hayti 
have dared to touch this subject at all! One reason 
is, that people are so little interested in that country 
that books fall fiat unless they amuse their readers by 
caricatures of the people. Most works are written by 
order of the Haytiau Government, and these are natu- 
rally only panegyrics of the rulers, and of their wise 
government. I should not have touched this subject 
had it not been for the deep impression made on me by 
the trial of the murderers of Claircine, and finding on 
careful inquiry how Vaudoux- worship and cannibalism 
were rampant throughout the island. 

One of my Haytian friends, Eugene Nau, who had care- 
fully studied the botany of the island, informed me that 
the number of medicinal plants, deleterious or not ac- ~ 
cording to the use made of them, to be found through- 
out the republic is very great, and that it was equally 
certain that the Papalois made use of them in their 
practices. I believe that in some French botanical 
works lists of these plants have been published, and 
their medical value would appear to merit further 
study. It is not more remarkable that the Papalois 
i L'(Ea of May 23, 1885. 


should be acquainted with the properties of the plants 
in Hayti than that the Indians of Peru and Bolivia 
should have discovered the virtues of the cinchona 
bark and the leaf of the coca-plant. 

If it be remembered that the Kepublic of Hayti is 
not a God-forsaken region in Central Africa, but an 
island surrounded by civilised communities; that it 
possesses a Government modelled on that of France, 
with President, Senate, and House of Eepresentatives ; 
with Secretaries of State, prefects, judges, and all the 
paraphernalia of courts of justice and of police ; with a 
press more or less free ; and, let me add, ar^archbishop, 
bishops, and clergy, nearly all Frenchmen, it appears 
incredible that the worship of the serpent, poisonings 
for a fee by recognised poisoners, and cannibalism should 
continue to pervade the island. The truth is, that ex- 
cept during a few years of Geffrard's Presidency, no 
Government has ever dared resolutely to grapple with 
the evil. If they have not encouraged it, they have 
ignored it, in order not to lose the favour of the masses. 
Although I am not inclined in any way to shelter 
myself behind the authority of others, yet it is pleasant 
to find so eminent a man as Mr. Froude converted to 
one's views. On leaving England he was a strong 
doubter, but wherever he went he found witnesses to 
prove that Vaudoux-worship and cannibalism were as 
a religion to the Haytians. This is the conclusion at 
which Mr. Froude arrived: — "But behind the im- 
morality, behind the religiosity, there lies active and 


alive the horrible revival of the West African super- 
stitions ; the serpent-worship and the child sacrifice and 
the cannibalism. There is no room to doubt it." ^ 

It is quite impossible for any one writing about 
Hayti to quote the testimony of those still living there ; 
it would render their existence a wretched one. Those 
who are best acquainted with what occurs among the 
masses both in town and country are undoubtedly the 
clergy. It was from the Archbishop of Port-au-Prince, 
Monseigneur Guilloux, that I received the most exact 
and convincing proofs ; and many other Catholic priests, 
still probably working in Hayti, furnished me with un- 
doubted testimony on the subject ; and a friend but last 
year travelling in the Black Eepublic found the clergy 
still convinced of the prevalence of Yaudoux-worship 
and cannibalism. I do not suppose that a single mem- 
ber of the diplomatic service who stayed any time in 
the country was ignorant of these practices ; in fact, I 
received most valuable assistance from my Spanish 
colleague, Don Mariano Alvarez, and from my Prench 
ones, the Marquis de Forbin Janson and Count M^jan ; 
whilst the English diplomatist who succeeded me in 
Port-au-Prince, Major Stuart, made a special study of 
the subject, and probably knows as much about it as any 
man living. Every member of the foreign community 
is more or less acquainted with the fetish practices of 
the lower orders. 

^ " The English in the West Indies," by James Anthony Froude, 
Chap. XX. 


But the best sources of information would naturally 
be found among the Haytians, if they would but speak. 
During my long residence in the republic I had many 
opportunities of inquiry. During the excitement caused 
by the trial of the cannibals in 1864 men's tongues 
were loosened and they spoke freely ; President Geffrard 
and Secretary of State Augusta Elie talked with me for 
hours on the subject, but it was from the medical pro- 
fession and eminent lawyers that most reliable particu-. 
lars could be obtained. Had I so wished I could have 
filled a volume with the blackest details, but I think I 
have proved enough, and perhaps more than enough, in 
the present chapters. Let enlightened Haytians take 
these things to heart, and devote more attention to the 
education of the people than to their own miserable 
political squabbles. 


( 258 ) 



The government of Hayti^ is in form republican, but 
is in fact a military despotism, all power being concen- 
trated in the hands of the President, who carries out or 
ignores the laws according to his pleasure. There are 
Secretaries of State, a Senate, and House of Eepresen- 
tatives ; but in General Geffrard's time, and generally 
since, the Ministers had no power in their respective 
departments, but were simply clerks to register the will 
of the chief of the State. The Senate was very humble, 
whilst the House of Eepresentatives, when it showed 
any signs of independence, as in the memorable ses- 
sion of 1863, was summarily dismissed, and a packed 
Chamber substituted. 

Daring the time of the next President, General Sal- 
nave, the civil war prevented the Congress meeting 
regularly. The Chambers met once ; but drawn swords, 

■* I may here notice that the Haytians have chosen the mountain 
cabbage-palm (Palma noiilis) as the tree of liberty in the national 
arms. It is in nature a beautiful palm, with its dark-green foliage and 
perfect shape. The cap of liberty stuck on the top of it makes it look 
rather ludicrous, and the arms around its base are not very appropriate 
to so unmilitary a people. 


pistol-shots, and yelling mobs caused the deputies to 
understand that with Salnave as chief of the State con- 
stitutional government had disappeared. " In revolu- 
tionary times, revolutionary measures," said Salnave's 
Chief Minister; "we must return to the immortal 
principles of 1793." He talked much of cutting oS" 
heads, but, to his credit be it said, whilst Minister he 
never shed a drop of blood. Enough had been done of 
that during the revolution of 1865. 

The Presidency of Nissage-Saget followed. Though 
the shooting of General Chevalier showed that he could 
act as illegally as any of his predecessors, yet he was a 
quiet man, who would have worked with the House of 
Eepresentatives if they had connived at some of his 
peccadilloes, and been blind to those of his Ministers, 
who were often most unhappily chosen. But the Depu- 
ties were of more than Eoman sternness with their 
friends in power. However, both the Senate and the 
Chamber of Deputies certainly influenced the Govern- 
ment ; but as the majority was generally in opposition, 
quarrels with the executive followed, and Nissage-Saget, 
in revenge, connived at the illegal appointment of 
General Domingue to the Presidentship in the spring 
of 1 874. From this time forward Hay ti has been going 
from bad to worse, until revolution after revolution 
brouo-ht the old Finance Minister of Soulouque into the 
Government, and General Salomon became President 
of Hayti. 

It may be seen from the above sketch that consti- 


tutional government is not likely to be favourably 
developed in such a soil as that of Hayti. The mass 
of the population, being ignorant Africans, wish to be 
governed by a despotic chief, and not by what they 
irreverently call a " tas de voleurs." No constitutional 
checks are sufficiently strong to overcome the popular 
will, and as yet few Presidents have been able to resist 
the desire of the people for personal government. They 
themselves seldom show any disposition to thwart this 
national predilection. 

I have known Hayti for upwards of twenty-five 
years, and I must confess that one by one my illusions 
have passed away, and my opinions are very changed 
indeed from what they were during my early residence 
in that country. I then knew a number of enthusiastic 
young lawyers, deputies, and government employes, who 
talked admirably of their projects of reform, and of their 
desire that their country should advance in civilisation. 
I believed in this party, and was eager to see it arrive 
at power ; but when it did have a chance of having a 
Government united with the Legislature in carrying out 
judicious reforms, it proved a most lamentable failure. 
Boisrond-Canal was President, a man full of good in- 
tentions, honest, who had fought gallantly against the 
savage tyranny of Salnave, and whose conduct then 
had merited the eulogium passed on him as a man 
" sans peur et sans reproche." No sooner was this 
chief in power than his former friends, jealous of his 
advancement, fell away from him, raised opposition, in 


the Chambers, thwarted every project of Grovernment, 
and at last, by their plots and an appeal to arms, 
brought on a revolution, which ultimately swept Bois- 
rond-Canal and all his mean plotting and scheming 
opponents out of the country, and brought in General 
Salomon. Tlie question of " What will he do with it ? " 
was anxiously watched; and there were many who 
believed that a paternal despotism was the best solu- 
tion, and might give the country some years of com- 
parative peace. 

Tlie Government of General Salomon had its baptism 
of blood, and dozens of those whom I well knew were 
shot. The Government accused these gentlemen of 
having conspired. Their friends declared that General 
Salomon wished to revenge private wrongs of old stand- 
ing, and imitate General Soulouque in terrifying the 
coloured population by wholesale massacres. Septimus 
Eameau, under President Domingue, followed this policy. 
He selected three of his most formidable adversaries to 
murder; succeeded with two, and drove many of the 
coloured population into exile. This is what is termed 
energetic action. It appears the starting-point for black 
Presidents, who say that no sooner are they installed 
in power than the coloured population begin to conspire. 
How far there is any truth in the charge of conspiracy 
against those gentlemen who were then residing in 
Hayti I will not at this distance of time attempt to 
determine ; but it is probable that their deaths may be 
somewhat laid at the door of those who, from their 


secure retreat in Jamaica, launched their pamphlets 
against the new Government. 

Constitution-making is almost the necessary result 
of any change of Government in Hayti. In 1805 
Dessalines issued the first constitution, which was re- 
vised next year by President Petion. In the northern 
province Christophe had his own constitution as Pre- 
sident, which he also had to revise in 181 1 when he 
became King. In the western and southern provinces 
under Potion the constitution was also changed in 18 16, 
and had a long life, as it lasted till the expulsion of 
President Boyer in 1843, when the successful insur- 
gents determined to have a fresh constitution, which, 
however, did not last long, as President Eiche returned 
in 1846 to that of Potion of 18 16, only somewhat re- 
vised. In 1849 Soulouque, becoming Emperor, had a 
now constitution to suit the occasion, which lasted till 
his expulsion. Gefifrard did not attempt to construct 
a new social pact; but the revolution under Salnave 
voted one in 1867, which was set aside in 1874 by 
Domingue. The last constitution is that which was 
prepared in 1879 under General Salomon, and is the 
one now nominally in force in Hayti, unless a new one 
has followed the late revolution (1888). 

On the 23d October 1879 General Salomon was 
elected President for seven years, and the constitution 
is dated i8ch December 1879. It consists of 205 

Article i. "The Eepublic of Hayti is one and indi- 


visible ; its teritory and the dependent islands are inviol- 
able, and cannot be alienated by any treaty or con- 
vention." Tills is a very favourite formula in America, 
and was the pretext for continuing a useless war on 
the Pacific coast, as both Peru and Bolivia declared 
that their constitutions forbid a cession of territory. 
That its territory should remain inviolable depends on 
its own conduct and the will of others, and is therefore 
rather superfluous. 

The articles relating to foreigners and their rights 
have been somewhat modified, and are more liberal 
than in former constitutions. Article 4 declares that 
every African or Indian and their descendants are 
capable of becoming Haytians; and a concession is 
added, that, on the proposition of the President of 
Hayti, any foreigner fulfilling certain conditions may 
become a citizen. 

Article 6 declares that only a Haytian can become 
the possessor of real property. This is less offensive 
than the form of the old article : — " Aucun blanc quelque 
soit sa nation ne pourra mettre le pied sur ce terri- 
toire a titre de maitre ou de propri^taire." It would 
be better for their prosperity to allow every one to 
acquire property in their country, but one is not sur- 
prised that their fear of the interference of foreign 
Governments should make them exclusive. 

Articles 8 to 13 contain the civil and political rights 
of the citizens. Article 8 in the constitution of 1 874 
is omitted. It declared the right of asylum (in lega- 


tions and consulates) to be sacred and inviolable, a 
curious subject to mention in a constitution. 

Articles 14 to 40 are devoted to public right.. 

Article 14. Haytians are equal before the la'w, but 
a naturalised foreigner is not admissible to legislative 
and executive functions. 

Article 16. " Individual liberty is guaranteed." This 
article has never been attended to by any Government. 
Every petty official thinks he has a right to " flanq.u^ 
en prison" any one he pleases; and the next article 
(Article 17), that he must be sent before the judge named 
by the constitution is also forgotten, and people have 
been kept years in prison without redress. Article 1 8. 
Every house in Hayti is an inviolable asylum. 

Article 24 declares "en matifere politique elle (la 
peine de mort) est abolie, et remplacfe par la deten- 
tion perpdtueUe dans une prison." Nothing could 
better illustrate the absurdity of Haytian laws and 
Haytian constitutions. The pen was scarcely dry that 
signed this constitution than political proscriptions 
commenced, and there is scarcely a city in Hayti that 
is not red with the blood of men accused or suspected 
of having conspired agaiust the Government of General 

1 All parties are interested that the death penalty for political 
delinquencies should be abolished. Salnave's revolutionary Govern- 
ment at Cap Haitien issued the following decree : — " The Provisional 
Government, to give satisfaction to the principles of supreme justice 
■which signalise the civilisation of the age, declares the penalty of 
death for political offences abolished in Haytian legislation. Cap 


Article 25. "Every one has the right to express his 
opinions on every subject, and to write, print, and pub- 
lish his thoughts," &c. &c., — full liberty of the press. 
This is on a par with Article 24. 

Article 26. Liberty of worship. This is carried to 
its full extent, and every religion, African and Chris- 
tian, is free. 

Article 30. "Instruction is free. Public instruction 
is free and gratuitous. Primary instruction is obliga- 
tory and gratuitous." This is for the future. In Hayti 
to decree the establishment of anything is supposed to 
.be sufficient for its fulfilment. 

Article 31. Trial by jury is established in all criminal 
and political cases. 

Article 35. "The secrecy of letters is inviolable." 
In President Salnave's time the letters were taken to 
the Prefect of Police, opened and read, and, then de- 
livered without any attempt to close them ; the letters 
addressed to foreigners were not respected. 

Article 40. " Public debts are guaranteed and placed 
under the safeguard of the loyalty of the nation." When 
General went to a famous banker in Paris to con- 
tract a debt for Hayti, the capitalist asked him what 
security he proposed, to ofier. The Minister replied, 
" La constitution place les dettes publiques sous la 
sauvegarde de la loyaut^ de la nation." The banker 

Haitien, May 9, 1865." Signed among others by Delorme and Sal- 
nave. Yet within a few months from the publication of this decree, 
those men who signed it dragged from the public prisons their political 
opponents, and shot them without the semblance of a trial. 


looked fixedly at him for a moment and then coolly 
said, " I have business to attend to, — good-morning." 

Articles 41 to 49 are on the sovereignty and the exer- 
cise of the powers therefrom derived. Article 41. The 
national sovereignty resides in the universality of the 
citizens. Article 42. The exercise of that sovereignty 
is delegated to three powers. The three . powers are 
the legislative, the executive, and the judicial. They 
form the government of the republic, which is essen- 
tially democratic and representative. Article 44. The 
legislative power is exercised by two representative 
chambers, — a Chamber of Deputies and a Senate. 
Article 45. These two can be united in a National 
Assembly according to the constitution. 

Art. 46. The executive power is delegated to a citizen, 
who takes the title of President of the Eepublic. 

Article 47. Affairs which exclusively relate to the 
communes are regulated by the communal councils, 
under the control of the executive power. 

Article 48. The judicial power is exercised by a 
court of cassation, civil courts, courts of appeal, of 
commerce, and of police. 

Article 49. Individual responsibility is distinctly 
attached to every public function. 

Articles 50 to 56. Eepresentatives are elected by the 
primary assemblies of each commune. Eepresentatives 
must be twenty-five years of age, and are elected for 
five years, and are paid £60 a month, during the 
duration of the session. 


Articles 57 to 66 treat of the Senate : it consists of 
thirty members elected for six years. The senators 
are elected by the Chamber of Deputies from two lists 
of candidates, one presented by the electoral assemblies, 
and the other by the executive power. A senator must 
be thirty years of age ; the Senate is renewed by thirds 
every two years. The Senate can only meet.dUring the 
legislative session, save in exceptional cases : on adjourn- 
ment it leaves a standing committee composed of five 
members. The salary of each senator is £2^0 a year. 

Articles 6y to 69 refer to the National Assembly, 
or union of the Senate and House of Eepresentatives 
in one chamber. The National Assembly meets at 
the opening of every session. The prerogatives of the 
National Assembly are : — To elect a President, to de- 
clare war, to approve treaties, which will have no effect 
until so approved, to authorise the contraction of loans, 
the establishment of a national bank, to change the 
capital of the republic, to revise the constitution, to 
give letters of naturalisation. 

Articles 70 to 100 refer to the exercise of the 
legislative power. 

Article 71. The Legislature meets by full right on 
the first Monday in April of each year.. 

Article 73. The President, with the consent of two- 
thirds of the Senate, can dissolve the Chambers. 

Article yy. Every member takes an oath to main- 
tain the rights of the people, and to be faithful to the 


Article 79. Money bills must originate in the Com- 
mons. The rest of the articles refer to the duties and 
the rights of the members. 

Articles loi to 123 refer to the President. He is 
elected for seven years, and not immediately re-eli- 
gible^ — must be forty years of age and proprietor of 
real estate. The President is called upon to swear the 
following oath : — " Je jure devant Dieu, devant la 
nation, d'observer, de faire observer fidfelement la con- 
stitution, et les lois du peuple haitien, de respecter 
ses droits, de maintenir Tind^pendance nationale et 
I'int^gritd du territoire." I wonder whether any Presi- 
dent, when he took that oath, really intended to observe 
it. For example — 

Article 24. On the non-punishment with death of 
political offences. General Salomon must have suffered 
greatly on this account. 

Articles no and in. The President commands the 
forces by sea and land, and confers rank in the army 
according to law, and appoints as well all civil func- 

Article 112. He makes treaties. 

Article 114. He has the right of amnesty and 

Article 115. Every measure must be submitted to a 
council, of Secretaries of State, and (Article 116) every 
act countersigned by one of them. 

' This article was repealed to enable General Salomon to be re- 


Article 120. The Chamber can impeach the. Presi- 
dent before the Senate. 

Article 122. Salary of President, ;^5000 a year. 

Articles 124 to 131 treat- of the Secretaries of State, 
who must be thirty years of age ; they form a council 
presided over by the President ; they have free entry 
into both Chambers, to institute measures or to oppose 
others; they can be called before the Chambers to 
answer interpellations, which they must answer in 
public or in secret session; they are responsible for 
all acts they may sign or countersign; their pay is 
^1200 a year. 

Articles 132 to 135 relate to communal institutions. 
Each commune has an elective council, of which the 
paid head, under the title of communal magistrate, is 
named by the President of the republic. 

Articles 136 to 158 refer to the judicial authority. 

Article 138 is especially important in Hayti:."]Sro 
extraordinary tribunals can be created under any de- 
nomination whatever, particularly under the name of 
courts-martial." A court of cassation is established 
in the capital; five courts of appeal are established, 
one for each of the departments. Each commune has 
at least a justice of the peace ; civil courts are estab- 
lished for one or more arrondissements. All judges 
are appointed by the President; they are immovable, 
and cannot be transferred without their own consent. 
Tribunals of commerce are also established. Ko 
political or press offences can be judged in secret 


session. The other articles relate to the usual functions 
of judges. 

Articles 159 to 165 treat of primary and electoral 
assemblies. Every citizen over twenty-one has the 
right to vote, voting being by ballot. At one election 
at Port-au-Prince the Government -were very desirous 
to defeat the popular candidate, and therefore placed 
soldiers round the polling-booth armed with clubs, who 
demanded from each elector for whom he was going to 
vote. Whenever a known supporter of the popular 
candidate approached, he was beaten or hustled away 
by the soldiers. The Government finding that, in spite 
of these precautions, the election was going against 
them, occupied the booth and stopped the voting, under 
the plea of disturbance of the peace. 

Articles 166 to 178 refer to the finances. No im- 
posts can be levied except according to law ; taxes are 
voted yearly; no emissions of money without legal 
sanction ; no pensions, gratifications, &c., except accord- 
ing to law ; no plurality of functions ; every minute 
precaution is taken to ensure the most careful manage- 
ment of the finances, including audit of accounts ; no 
money can be coined abroad or bear any e£Bgy but that 
of the republic. I understand, however, that all the 
new dollars were coined abroad. 

Articles 179 to 188 relate to the armed forces. The 
army must not deliberate ; no privileged corps ; no one 
but a soldier can be promoted to a military grade. In 
my time the majority of of&cers had never been soldiers. 


The National Guard is composed of those citizens who 
are not in the active army. 

Articles 189 to 205 refer to miscellaneous subjects. 
The national colours: are blue and red, placed horizon- 
tally. The white was long ago banished from the flag.. 
The arms of the republic are the palm-tree surmounted 
by the cap of liberty and adorned by a trophy of arms, 
with the motto, " L'union fait la force " 

Article 192. " No Haytian or foreigner can claim^ 
damages for losses incurred during civil troubles!' A 
most ridiculous article, to which no foreign Govern-, 
ment has paid the slightest attention. 

Article 194. The national /^ies are those of the inde- 
pendence of Hayti and its heroes, the great hero being 
Dessalines, who decreed the massacre of every defence- 
less man, woman, or child of white Trench parentage to 
be found in the republic, and who was perhaps, with- 
out exception, one of the vilest of men. January ist 
is given up to his memory, and the Haytians glory in 
his bloodthirsty deeds. The second national f^te is to 
agriculture — May ist, which is one of the most ludi- 
crous imaginable in its surroundings. A few culti- 
vators are collected with bunches of bananas and other 
products, and prizes are distributed by the President, 
surrounded by hundreds of sneering officers. Even 
they can but smile at the absurdity called " encourage- 
ment to agriculture." . 

Article 197. No state of siege can be declared except 
during times of civil trouble, and then the decree must 


be signed by the President and all the Secretaries of 

Article 200. The constitution cannot be suspended, 
in whole or in part, on any excuse whatever. It can, 
however, be revised under certain conditions. 

Article 204. This is a very remarkable article. It 
suspends those articles for a year which proclaim the 
immovability of the judges, in order that the President 
may raise the magistracy to the height of its mission. 

Although this constitution appears very elaborate 
and proclaims great principles, it leaves all details to 
be settled by special laws, which are seldom passed, 
and never acted on unless it may suit the pleasure of 
the chief of the State. 

With the habits of the country, the framers of this 
constitution must have known that in making the Pre- 
sident of Hayti swear to observe it they were forcing 
him to commit perjury by anticipation. The President 
swore to it, but did not keep it, and probably never 
intended to keep it. Article 24, which abolishes the 
punishment of death in political cases, has been com- 
pletely set aside, and dozens of coloured men of mark 
have been sentenced to death and shot. 

As the Eussian Government is said to be a despotism 
tempered by assassination, so the Haytian Government 
may be called a despotism tempered by revolution and 
exile, and occasionally by death. 

Their first ruler, Dessalines, was shot. Christophe 
committed suicide to escape a worse fate. Potion died 


President after twelve years of power. Boyer was 
exiled after a Presidency that lasted for twenty-five 
years. H^rard Eivifere was proclaimed President on 
December 30, 1843, amid much enthusiasm; but on 
May 7, 1844, following he was deposed amid greater 
enthusiasm, and exiled, and General Guerrier was 
named President. Within less than a year he died, 
April 15, 1845, ^^^ General Pierrot was elected by the 
Council of State. On March i, 1846, the troops at 
St. Marc proclaimed Eich^ President, and Pierrot abdi- 
cated. On the 27th February following (1847) Eich4 
died, and on the 2d March Soulouque was elected 
President. He soon tired of this form of government, 
and proclaimed himself Emperor in August 1849, and 
held that position till January 1859, when he was upset 
by General Geffrard and exUed. 

Geffrard restored the republic, and held the Pre- 
sidency till February 1867, when he also went into 
exile, to be succeeded by General Salnave in April 
1867. In January 1870 the latter was overthrown 
and shot. 

The only President in late years who carried through 

his term of office, and was neither exiled nor shot, was 

Nissage-Saget. At the completion of his four years, he 

retired on a pension to his native city. After Saget, 

General Domingue seized the reins of government, but 

was expelled in 1876, and sent wounded into exile. 

Boisrond- Canal followed. In the third year of his 

Presidency he was overthrown and retired from the 




country, and in October of the same year (1879) General 
Salomon was elected for seven years. 

It will thus be seen that two only of all these rulers 
completed their terms of office. 

As was natural in an old French colony, the divi- 
sions of the country are French. It is divided into 
departments, arrondissements, and communes, and the 
governing machinery is most elaborate. There is no 
lack of candidates [for every post. The general of the 
department and the general of the arrondissement are 
the officers to whom all power is really delegated, and 
they are generally absolute in their districts. The Gov- 
ernment often, however, trust more to their general of 
arrondissement than to that of the department, as they 
fear to render the latter too powerful. They are veri- 
table despots as a rule, and ride roughshod over every 
law at their pleasure, and are seldom called to account 
by the supreme authority. 

The republic of Hayti is divided as follows : — 


Chief Cities. 




. Cap Haitian 

• 7 



. Port de Paix 

. 2 



. Gonaives 

. 3 



. Port-au-Prince 

. S 



. Les Cayes . 

. 6 




The department of the north is generally the most 
troublesome, from the separatist ideas of the inhabi- 
tants. King Christophe carried out that idea, and 


kept them independent for many years; and in 1865 
Salnave tried the same project, but failed. They are, 
however, always restless, and dislike the other depart- 
ments of the republic. 

The department of the south is, on the whole, the 
most backward of all, and has been generally neglected,, 
but the recent holder of power, being a native of Les 
Cayes, may have aided its progress. 

All the other departments are jealous of that of the 
west, as in it are the capital, the seat of Government, 
and the Treasury, to which contributions flow from 
the other departments. Their object is always to 
divert to local wants as much of the general revenue 
as possible, and they think that if they could form 
separate republics they would have their whole income 
to spend. 

To sum up : At the head of the Government is a 
President chosen for seven years. He is supported by 
four or five Secretaries of State, who, when the chief 
is strong, are but his head-clerks. A legislative body 
exists, consisting of a Senate of thirty paid members, 
generally very tractable ; of a Chamber of Eepre- 
sentatives of sixty members, also paid, that, under a 
chief who has the power of life and death, give him 
but little trouble. His main reliance, however, as also 
his main danger, is the army. General Salomon paid 
particular attention to that institution ; had it strongly 
recruited, and, as long as its chiefs were satisfied, defied 
the isolated revolutionary attempts of his enemies. The 


army is generally composed of blacks, and they look on 
a black President as their rightful head. They obey 
a coloured chief, but it is not willingly, and murmur 
at his punishments, whilst a black general might have 
a man beaten to death without exciting any dissatisfac- 
tion among his comrades. 

( 277 ) 



During the long Presidency of General Geffrard, the 
concordat with Eome was carried out in some of its 
most essential points. Until then the Roman Catho- 
lic clergy in Hayti were a byword and a reproach to 
every one who respected religion. There were few 
priests who were not the expelled of other countries, 
and even adventurers had assumed the clerical garb to 
obtain an easy and lucrative living. There was one 
priest in the south, who was considered a hon enfant 
and inclined to luxurious cheer, who turned his atten- 
tion to money-making, and every week he sallied forth 
from the town of Les Cayes to forage in the country 
districts. So that he was paid his fees, it was imma- 
terial to him what he was called upon to bless ; he 
would indifferently sprinkle holy water on a new house 
or a freshly built temple dedicated to the Vaudoux- 
worship. The simple inhabitants would bring out their 
stone implements, imported in former days from Africa 
and used in their fetish rites, and the priest would 
bless them ; then he would return to town in a jovial 


mood and chuckle over his gains. In comparatively 
a few years that man remitted to Europe through 
an English house the sum of twelve thousand pounds 

Another, whom I knew personally, lived in a town 
not far from the capital, and his amours somewhat 
scandalised the Archhishop. He tried in vain to have 
him removed from his parish. The priest was popu- 
lar, had influence in Government circles, and defied 
his superior. He might have defied him to the end 
had he not mixed in politics ; but having embraced the 
losing side, he was ultimately banished. 

In that neighbourhood also there lived another priest 
whom the Archbishop had dismissed for living in the 
same house with his large family, and for engaging in 
commerce ; and Monseigneur also applied to the Govern- 
ment to have him expelled from the republic. The 
cur6 appealed for protection to the French Legation, 
saying that he should be completely ruined if forced 
suddenly to abandon the country. The representative 
of France, thinking he ought to have time granted him 
to settle his affairs, stated the case to the Haytian 

' " Nous ne sommes plus aux temps oh quelques rares cur&, repartis 
dans les principales paroisses de la rdpublique faisaient d'^normes bfee- 
fioes par des moyens souvent h^las reprouv& par la conscience et par 
les lois de I'^glise. . . . Qu'ai-je besoin d'^voquer dans le pass^ les 
lamentables souvenirs de I'^glise en Haiti. Je suis prStre, et je vou- 
drais pour I'honneur du sacerdoce pouvoir laver son opprobre de mes 
larmes et de les plonger dans un ^ternel oubli. Mais il ne depend 
ni de moi ni de personne d'eu effacer la triste mdmoire." — Monseigneur 
A. GniLLOUX, Archbishop of Port-au-Prince. 


Minister of Public Worship, who, agreeing with him, 
remarked, " II est peut-ltre mauvais prStre, mais bon 
p^re de famille." 

There was a priest who formerly lived at La Coupe, 
the summer resort of the inhabitants of Port-au-Prince 
— a dapper Parisian — who was perfectly astonished by 
the accounts the peasantry gave of one of his pre- 
decessors; and I could gather from him that, short 
of being present at human sacrifices, the man would 
join in any feast given by the negroes in a district 
as full of Vaudoux-worshippers as any in the island, 
and his immorality equalled his other qualities.^ 

Several of these ignoble priests were Corsicans who 
had been driven from their country on account of 
crime. For fear, however, any one should consider 
these statements to be exaggerated, I will add to the 
testimony given by the Archbishop an extract from 
a speech of M. Valmy Lizaire, Minister of Public 
Worship (1863) :— 

" N'^prouve-t-on pas un sentiment penible et doulou- 
reux en contemplant I'^tat de notre ^glise depuis sa 
uaissance jusqu'^ ce jour, en voyant la dignity du 
saint ministfere souvent menacde et compromise par 
des inconnus sans qualit^s, par quelques moines la plus 
part du temps 4chapp^s de leur convents et venant 
offrir jusqu'4 chez nous le dangereux spectacle de leurs 

^ " Ne suflSt-il pas d'ailleurs de parcourir les villea et les bourgades de 
la rdpublique pour rencontrer encore les t^moins vivants d'un libertin- 
age sans exemple." — Guilloux. 


d^r^glements ? Je ne ferai point I'horreur k plaisir 
ea essayant de retracer iqi tout ce que nos annales 
religieuses renferment de desordres et d'exc^s. II 
suffit de dire que nulle part, peut-etre dans la 
chr^tient4 le clerg6 n'a profan^ autant qu'en Haiti 
le sacerdoce dont il est revStu." 

At length the scandal became so intolerable that 
the Government of Hayti determined to negotiate a 
concordat at Eome, and after many difBculties had 
been overcome, it was signed in i860, and the Pope 
sent as his delegate Monseigneur Testard de Cosquer 
to bring it into practice. He was one of the most 
pleasing of men, handsome, eloquent, and the romantic 
but terrible episode related of him as the cause of 
his leaving the army and entering into holy orders 
rendered him an object of great interest to the fair sex. 
He brought with him a body of French clergy, whom 
he gradually installed in the different parishes of the 
republic, not, however, without a difficult struggle with 
those who formerly held possession and disgraced the 

The concordat consisted of seventeen articles and 
two additions, which provided first for the special 
protection of the Catholic religion ; the establisliment 
of an archbishopric at Port-au-Prince, and as soon 
as possible other dependent bishoprics, paid by the 
State; nomination by the President of three bishops 
subject to the approval of the Holy See, — the clergy to 
take an oath of fidelity to the Government ; estab- 


lishment of seminaries and chapters j nomination of 
priests by the bishops of persons approved of by the 
Government, and a few other arrangements of lesser 

The Roman Catholic Church, however, although 
the religion of the State, has never been popular in 
Hayti. Amongst the upper classes disbelief, among 
the lower the influence of the Vaudoux, and the 
fanatical opposition of the Catholic priesthood to Free- 
masonry have combined to prevent the Church from 
gaining either the confidence or the afi'ection of the 
nation. Even over the women the priests exercise less 
influence than in other countries. 

Although the Eoman Catholic religion is that of 
the State, all others are tolerated, and many Haytian 
Ministers have felt inclined to encourage the Protes- 
tants, not only to counterbalance any political influence 
of the priests, but with the object of creating a rivalry 
in the performance of their missionary duties. These 
passing fits of enlightenment, however, have been but 
of short duration, and little has been done to encourage 
any form of religion. 

At present Hayti is divided into five dioceses; but 
at the time of the last report I have seen, there were 
only one archbishop and two bishops ; these were aided 
by four vicars-general. 

Port-au-Prince, being the capital, is the seat of the 
archbishopric, where Monseigneur Guilloux worthily 
held sway, and he was aided in his duties by a vicar 


and chapter. He had always had a difficult part to 
play, and during the civil war of 1 869 ran many risks, 
and -was nearly expelled the country. 

The budget makes allowance for one archbishop at 
;£^8oo a year ; two bishops at £480 a year ; the vicar 
of Port-au-Prince at £160 a year; three other vicars 
at ;^I20 a year ; and sixty-seven parish priests at 
£48 a year. 

Besides this regular pay, the Government is bound 
to furnish the clergy with suitable residences. The 
Archbishop has a very comfortable and spacious house, 
sufficiently furnished for the climate, and situated in 
the healthiest quarter of the town. The clergy receive 
also many fees, the amount for baptisms, marriages, 
and funerals having been fixed by arrangement with 
the Government. When I was in Port-au-Prince there 
was a very warm discussion as to whether the fees were 
to be employed towards the payment of salary, each 
party accusing the other of wishing to violate the 

After the expulsion of President Geffrard, the 
revolutionary party desired to upset all his arrange- 
ments, even to the concordat. Monseigneur Guilloux 
published a strong defence of that treaty, taking 
very high ground, and claiming a great deal for the 

This pamphlet called forth the following epigram 
from General Alibd F6ry : — 


Les Deux Ekclos. 

C^sar ne doit an Christ rien soustraire k la vigne 
Dit notre bon pr61at plus absolu qu'un czar. 
D'aocord ; mais ce gardien d'un vdg^tal insigne 
Doit-il parfois glaner dans le champ de C&ar 1 

This was a much-admired specimen of Haytian wife. 

As I have previously observed, Hayti has never 
quite reconciled herself to the clergy, and therefore 
the influence exercised by the priest is less than iu 
other Catholic countries. There are two patent causes ; 
first, the hold that the Vaudoux-worship has on the 
mass of the people, and, second, the pertinacious opposi- 
tion of the Church to Freemasonry. 

It is the fashion to extol the intelligence and far- 
sightedness of the Church of Eome, but certainly the 
opposition shown to Freemasonry, that harmless institu- 
tion in Hayti, has done more to injure the influence 
of the Catholic clergy among the educated classes 
than any other cause. All who know what Free- 
masonry is, know that its objects are to promote good- 
fellowship, with a modicum of charity and mutual 
aid. The exercise of ancient rites, which, though a 
mystery, are as harmless, and perhaps as childish, as 
the scenes of a pantomime, never deserved the opposi- 
tion of a serious clergy. 

The Haytians are devoted to Freemasonry, and love 
to surround the funerals of their brethren with all 
the pomp of the order. I was once invited to a 
masonic funeral, and we marched through the town 


with banners displayed, each member wearing the 
insignia of his rank; but I noticed that as soon as 
the church was reached everything pertaining to the 
order was removed from the coffin, and the members 
pocketed their insignia. We then entered the sacred 
building. The funeral was one that greatly touched 
us all, as it was that of a young officer who had that 
morning been killed in a duel, under peculiarly unfor- 
tunate circumstances. The priests came forward, — 
suddenly they stopped, and with signs of anger re- 
treated up the church. A gentleman followed to inquire 
the cause. The abbd answered that until all signs of 
Freemasonry were removed he would not perform the 
ceremony. What signs ? He replied that all the 
mourners had little sprigs in their button-holes, which 
was a masonic sign. We had all to conceal the sprigs 
until the ceremony was over. It was a trifle, but it 
excited the utmost anger among the mourners present. 
My deceased friend, Seguy-Villevaliex, wrote me an 
account' of what occurred on another occasion. A 
general and high officer in the brotherhood died, and 
the Freemasons determined to give him a grand funeral, 
and President Domingue signified his intention to be 
present. A great procession was organised, and was 
preparing to start for the cathedral, when a mes- 
senger arrived from the vicar to say that he would 
not allow the funeral to enter the church unless the 
masonic procession was given up. The President was 
furious, and being a very violent man, was ready to 


order a battalion to force a way for the funeral, when 
a prudent adviser said to Domingue, " The Protestants 
do not object to Freemasonry ; let ixs send for Bishop 
Holly, and ask him to perform the service for us." 

Bishop Holly willingly consented, and the procession 
started for the Protestant cathedral, where the funeral 
service was performed, with banners displayed, and 
every other masonic sign in full view. Nearly every 
man present was a Eoman Catholic, and probably for 
the first time in Hayti had a President, his Ministers, 
his aides-de-camp and followers been present in a Pro- 
testant church. 

The strongest feeling, however, against the Church 
arises from the prevalence, not only of the Vaudoux- 
worship, but of its influence. There are thousands 
who would never think of attending one of its cere- 
monies who yet believe in and fear the priests of this 
fetish sect. The Papalois, however, as I have stated 
in Chapter V., do not disdain to direct their followers 
to mix up with their own the ceremonies of the Chris- 
tians. They will burn candles before the church doors, 
will place on the cathedral steps all the rubbish of hair 
and bone which are religious emblems with them, and 
will have in their temples pictures of the Virgin Mary 
and of Jesus Christ. In former times they would 
gladly pay heavily to the degenerate priests of the ante- 
concordat days to sprinkle with holy water the altars 
of the temples under which their slimy god was held 


When it is remembered how imbued Haytian 
society has been with this degrading worship, it is 
perhaps not a matter of surprise how small is the 
influence of the clergy among the rural population. 
The Catholic priests are also comparatively few in 
number, dislike heartily the life in the interior, and 
are paid by the State. There is also little enthusiasm 
awakened by that rivalry which a successful Protestant 
Church would have brought forth.^ 

There is no doubt but that the conduct of the 
clergy has been very much criticised in Hayti, and 
none, from the Archbishop downwards, escaped the 
attention of the teller of merry anecdotes ; but, as far 
as I could myself observe, their moral conduct, with 
very few exceptions indeed, was all that could be de- 
sired. At the same time they showed no enthusiasm, 
cared little for their congregations, were inclined to 
domineer, and preferred the comfort of their town- 
houses to missionary toils in the interior, and were per- 

' The Peaple of September lo, 1887, notices a, thesis presented by 
M. H^rivel to the Faculty of Protestant Theology in Paris. It was 
entitled " Haite au point de vue religieux." The Editor of the Hay- 
tian paper remarks : — " M. H^rivel a habits Haiti pendant quelques 
ann^es, mais il jette sur la religion catholique le fait de la non-civili- 
zation des masses, et il dit : — On y aurait, s'il y avait ^t^ besoin, trouv^ 
les preuves que la culte du Vaudoux est associ^ dans les esprits plongfe 
dans les tdnfebres k 1' exercise de la religion catholique, car il ressortit 
des depositions que les Papalois avaient recommend^ de br^er des 
cierges dans les ^glises catholiques, et de placer snr les autels les divers 
objets de leur superstition h c6t6 des croix et des images de la Vi^rge. 
Voilk prfes de quatre sifecles que le catholicisme rfegue dans I'ile d'Haiti. 
Oil est sa vertu ? oil sout ses fruits ? " 


sistently opposed to every liberal measure. Whilst I 
■was in Port-au-Prince, a priest slapped a lady's face in 
church for some error in ceremonial. 

The priests of the ante-concordat period no doubt 
rendered the task of the new clergy as difficult as 
possible, first by their pernicious example, and then 
by their opposition ; but Archbishop Guilloux com- 
pletely cleared the island of them, and established a 
respectable clergy in their place. The Catholics say 
that their influence is daily increasing throughout the 

The Protestants have not had much success in 
Hayti. The Episcopalians are represented by a bishop. 
Mr. Holly, a convert from Eomanism and a black, 
■was the first representative of that Church whom I 
met with in Port-au-Prince. He had many of the 
qualities which ensure a good reception. He had 
pleasant manners, was well educated, and was thor- 
oughly in earnest; but the pecuniary support he 
received was so slight that he never could carry »ut 
his views. I believe that those who attend the 
Anglican services in the whole of Hayti number less 
than a thousand, and the majority of these are probably 
American and English coloured immigrants. 

The Wesleyans had for their chief pastor Mr. Bird, 
who was an institution in Hayti. He had a very good 
school, and was highly respected. There are several 
chapels in different parts of the island, and I notice, in 
a recent consular return, that as many as 1400 attend 


the services. With other denomiaations combined, the 
Protestant population may be considered to amount to 
between 3000 and 4000. 

When I first arrived in Hayti, and was curious as to 
the character of certain individuals, I was often struck 
by the reply, " Oh ! he is an honest man, but then he is 
a Protestant," — and this from Eoman Catholics ! 

The Protestants are not yet in any way sufficiently 
numerous or influential to be a counterpoise to the 
Catholic clergy, and do not, therefore, incite the latter 
to exertion. I did suggest that the Protestant clergy 
should all join the Freemasons' lodges, and be ready to 
perform the religious ceremonies required at funerals. 
It would have greatly increased their popularity and 
influence in the country ; but I believe my advice was 
considered too worldly. 

Divorce is another bone of contention between the 
Catholic clergy and the people. By the civil law 
divorce is recognised, and cases occur every year. The 
clergy denounce those who re-marry civilly as living 
in a state of concubinage, and much ill-feeling is the 

Although, as I have before remarked, the Catholic 
clergy have greatly improved in conduct since the con- 
cordat, yet, in popular estimation, there is still some- 
thing wanting. I have not forgotten the excitement 
caused by a song which a young Haytian (black) wrote 
on the subject. A very good-looking priest had at all 
events been indiscreet, and the Archbishop decided 

KELIGIOlSr. 289 

to banish him from the capital to a rural district. A 
deputation of females, early one morning, waited on 
Monseigneur to remonstrate, but he was firm, and then 
the song declared : — 

" II fallait voir pleurer les muMtresseg, 
En beaux peignoirs et les cheveux au vent ; 
II fallait voir sangloter les ndgresses 
Tout ce tableau par nn soleil levant. 
Bon voyage, 
Cher petit blanc ! 
Tu vas troubler I'eglise et le manage. 
Bon voyage, 
Saint petit blanc ! 
Que de regrets, O mon saor^ galant ! " 

As there was a certain amount of truth in the 
scandalous stories afloat, Monseigneur was very irri- 
tated with the author, and imprudently applied to 
Government to have him arrested. He was arrested, 
but his influential relatives soon procured his release, 
but under the condition of suppressing the song. Of 
course he was the hero of the hour, and his verses had 
a greater success than ever. 

Although "the complete ascendency of the Church 
of Eome is incompatible with liberty and good govern- 
ment," yet it is a matter of regret that in Hayti the 
Eoman Catholic priests have had so little success. 
Their task is no doubt difficult, and, under present 
circumstances, almost a hopeless one. They cannot 
cope with so vast a mass of brutal ignorance and gross 
superstition, and one of the best men among them used 


often to complain of tlie little assistance they received 
from what might be considered the enlightened classes. 
My friend Alvarez, the Spanish chargi d'affaAres, was 
very indignant at the idea presented by a French author, 
Monsieur Bonneau, that Catholicism was incapable of 
contending with the Vaudoux-worship ; but there is no 
doubt that as yet nothing has had much influence in 
suppressing it. 

The Eoman Catholic Church, however, has been 
greatly reinforced since I left Hayti iu 1877. It now 
counts as many as seventy priests, and had above 
64,000 Easter communicants in 1883. How many of 
these were in secret followers of the Vaudoux ? 

To afford a special supply of priests for Hayti, the 
Archbishop Testard de Cosquer established in 1864 a 
Haytian seminary in Paris, to the support of which the 
Chambers in Port-au-Prince voted 20,000 francs a year. 
This allowance being irregularly paid, the seminary was 
closed, but was reopened by Moiiseigneur Guilloux, 
who obtained a yearly sum of 10,000 francs from the 
Haytian Government. It is perhaps needless to say 
that even this small amount is generally greatly in 

There can be no doubt that the Bishops and their 
clergy are fighting a good fight in the cause of civilisa- 
tion, but with such a Government and such a people 
their progress must be slow. 



The following anecdote aptly illustrates the saying, 
Who shall teach the teachers ? It is a custom in Hayti 
that in all schools, public as well as private, there shall 
be once a year a solemn examination in the presence 
of a commission appointed by Government. M. Seguy- 
Villevaliex kept the best private school or college that 
Port-au-Prince had ever seen, and on the appointed 
day for the public examination the official commission 
arrived, and having been duly installed in the seats 
of honour, teachers and pupils presented themselves, 
and the work commenced. All went well till the 
exercises in orthography were nearly over, when un- 
fortunately M. Villevaliex turned to the president of 
the commission, a negro of the deepest dye, but a high 
Government functionary, and said, "Would you like 
to try the boys yourself ? " " Certainly ; " and various 
words were given, which were written dow-u on the 
black-board to the satisfaction of all. At last the 
president gave the word " Pantalon," and a smart boy 
carefully chalked it up. " Stop ! " cried the sable chief, 
" there is a mistake in that spelling." The master, the 
teachers, and the boys carefully scanned the word, and 
could detect no mistake. The black had a smile of 
conscious superiority on his lips. At length the master 
said, " I see no mistake, president." " You don't ! Do 
you not know that it is spelt with an e — ' pentalon ' 1 " 


After a severe glance at his pupils to prevent an ex- 
plosion of laughter, my friend, perfectly equal to the 
occasion, answered, " It used to he spelt so, president, 
hut the Academy has lately changed the mode, and it 
is now spelt with an a." The courtesy and gravity of 
M. Villevaliex's manner was such that the president 
of the commission was quite satisfied ; and pleased 
with himself, he wrote a favourable report on the con- 
dition of the schooL Had the almost uncontrollable 
laughter of the boys burst forth, what would have been 
the report ? And yet this man was a leading spirit in 
his country, and thought fit for the highest offices, 
though he was as stupid as he was ignorant. 

I arrived at the college just too late for this scene, 
but in time to hear the cheerful laughter of the boys, 
who, after the departure of the commission, made the 
playground ring with their merry jokes. 

President Geffrard, whose term of office extended 
from January 1859 to February 1867, did more than 
any other chief to encourage education, and yet, 
even in his time, not more than one in ten of the 
children of school-age attended the educational estab- 

Major Stuart, in his report on Hayti for the year 
1876, gives some statistical tables which show the 
state of these establishments in the year 1875, and 
little has changed since, so that his figures will suffi- 
ciently serve the purpose required. There were — 


4 lyceums 

. with 543 pupils 

6 superior girl schools 

• „ 563 „ 

5 secondary schools . 

• „ 350 » 

165 primary schools. 

„ 11,784 „ 

200 rural schools 

., 5>939 ,, 

I school of medicine 

25 „ 

I school of music 

■ „ 46 „ 


19,250 „ 

To these may be added the pupils in the private 
schools and in those of the Christian Brothers and 
the Sisters of Cluny. 

It is very difficult to test the results attained at 
the official schools, but I think, judging from my own 
experieui^e in Hayti, that they are small indeed. Some 
of the commissions appointed to examine the scholars 
report favourably, but, after the example of Monsieur 
Pentalon, I put but little faith in these judgments. 

In the last official report that I have seen there is 
mucli shortcoming confessed, and the feeling after read- 
ing it is, that the majority of the teachers are incom- 
petent, as all negligently-paid service must be. Good 
teachers will not remain in employment with salaries 
often six months in arrear, and only those who can find 
nothing else to do will carry on the schools. Negli- 
gence is the result, and negligence in the masters acts 
on the scholars, and their attendance is irregular; and 
the means of teaching are often wanting, as the money 
voted for the purchase of books goes in this revolutionary 
country for arms and powder. Parents, particularly 
negro parents, rarely appreciate the value of the know- 


ledge to be acquired in- schools, and are apt to send 
their children late and take them away early, in order 
to aid in the support of the family. 

The best school in the country is the Petit Sdmi- 
naire, conducted by priests — Jesuits, it is said, under 
another name. The head of the college in my time, 
and, I believe, to the present day, was Pfere Simonet, 
a very superior man, quite capable of directing the 
institution aright ; and I have been informed that the 
favourable results of their system of education have 
been very marked. In September 1883 this estab- 
lishment was directed by fifteen priests of the Con- 
gregation of the Holy Spirit, and contained as many 
as 300 pupils. 

The Sisters of Oluny have also an establishment near 
Port-au-Prince, where the daughters of the chief fami- 
lies of the capital receive their education, and their 
institution is well spoken of. I attended one of their 
examinations and school exhibitions, when recitals and 
acting by the young girls were the amusements afforded 
us. Some of the pupils appeared to be remarkably 
bright, and they acquitted themselves of their tasks 
in a very pleasing manner. Since I left Hayti, these 
establishments for girls have greatly increased in im- 
portance. There are now as many as sixty sisters, and 
twenty others called " Pilles de la Sagesse," who have 
established schools in the chief centres of population, 
which were attended by about 3000 pupils. 

The Christian Brothers have also many schools dis- 


persed throughout the country, principally, however, 
in the larger towns, which are fairly well attended. 
They are reported to have had also as many as 3000 
boys under tuition. 

It is generally thought that the teaching in all these 
schools is not such as to develop the intellect of the 
pupils. As might have been expected, too much time 
is given to trifling with religious subjects, as teaching 
the girls an infinity of hymns to the Virgin Mary, and 
to the study of the lives of the saints. Such, at least, 
was the complaint made to me by the relatives of the 
girls. Nothing appears to be able to avert the evil in- 
fluence of the immodest surroundings of these schools. 
A gentleman told me that, entering a room where his 
nieces were sitting sewing, he heard them singing a 
most indecent song in Creole, probably quite innocent 
of the real meaning, and they told him that they had 
learnt it from the native servants at the school ; whilst 
the pupils at the Petit S^minaire have often suffered 
from the utter depravity of some of the lower portion 
of the population. 

In one of the official reports on the principal lyceum, 
the Minister of Public Instruction remarks : — " As re- 
gards studies, discipline of pupils and teachers, the 
national lyceum has fallen into a shameful state. It 
is to the superior direction that this abasement of the 
lyceum is in part to be attributed. It so far forgets 
itself, as to give to professors and pupils scandalous 
spectacles, which attest the disregard of propriety and 


of the most ordinary reserve that a teacher ought to 
observe in presence of early age and youth." 

By this account it would appear that the pupils have 
often but a poor example to imitate. I should have 
set down to political feeling this strong censure had I 
not known the lyceum in my time to have fallen very 
low indeed in public estimation. 

Poor, however, as the education is that is given in 
Hayti, it is nevertheless an advance; and if ever re- 
volutions cease and peace be kept for a few years, the 
Government may yet turn its attention to founding 
educational establishments on a solid basis. Of this, 
however, there is very little hope. 

There are several private schools in Hayti. The best, 
as I have previously observed, was kept by the late M. 
geguy-Villevaliex. He had a very high opinion of the 
capacity of Haytian boys to learn, and he turned out 
some excellent scholars. His school, however, deterio- 
rated in late years from his inability to secure superior 
teachers, arising first from parents not paying their 
school-bills, and secondly from the Government omit- 
ting to settle their accounts with him for the bursars. 
I mention the following incident to show what a people 
the Haytians are. During the civil war in 1868 and 
1869, M. Villevaliex spent all his capital in supporting 
some dozens of boarders, whose parents were among 
the insurgents, and by his energy saved the lads from 
beincr drafted into the armv. Yet when the war was 
over, few, if any, paid him what was due, or did it in 


depreciated paper, which was almost equivalent to not 
paying at all. 

Education in Hayti is too often sacrificed to political 
exigencies, and a master of a high school is not chosen 
for his capacity, but for his political leanings. 

We all noticed what has often been remarked in 
Africa, that negro boys, up to the age of puberty, were 
often as sharp as their coloured fellow-pupils ; and there 
can be no doubt that the coloured boys of Hayti have 
proved, at least in the case of one of their number, 
that they could hold their ground with the best of 
the whites. Young F^n^lon Faubert obtained the " prix 
d'honneur au grand concours" at Paris in rhetoric, 
" discours latin," and only missed it the next year by 
impardonable carelessness. 

Some of the Haytian lads have the most extraordi- 
nary memories. M. Villevaliex mentioned one to me 
who came to his school rather over the usual age. My 
friend took up a book on rhetoric and asked him a few 
questions, which were answered in the words of the 
author without an error ; curious as to the extent 
of his proficiency, the schoolmaster kept turning page 
after page, and found, to his surprise, that the boy 
knew nearly the whole volume by heart. He then 
began to converse with him, and soon discovered, that 
although he could repeat his lesson perfectly, he did 
not really understand the sense of what he was 

Whilst I was at Port-au-Prince the following affecting 


incident occurred : — Many families who have accu- 
mulated a certain amount of wealth by retail trade 
are desirous of having their children well educated, 
and therefore send them to France. A Haitienne of 
this description placed her daughter at the Convent 
of the Sacre Coeur in Paris. After seven years' resi- 
dence there, she passed a few months with a French 
family, and saw a little society in the capital. She 
then returned to Port-au-Prince, was received at the 
wharf by a rather coarse-looking fat woman, whom her 
affectionate heart told her was her mother, and accom- 
panied her home. Here she found a shop near the 
market-place, where her mother sold salt pork and rum 
by retail; the place was full of black men and women 
of the labouring class, who were, as usual, using the 
coarsest language, and who pressed round to greet her 
as an old acquaintance. Traversing the shop, she found 
herself in a small parlour, and here she was destined 
to live. Her mother was doing a thriving trade, and 
was always in the shop, which was a receptacle of 
every strong- smelling food, whose odours penetrated 
to the parlour. There the young girl sat within ear- 
shot of the coarse language of the customers. What 
a contrast to the severe simplicity of the convent, the 
kindness of the nuns, the perfect propriety ! and added 
to this the recollection of the society she had seen 
in Paris ! She was but a tender plant, and could not 
stand this rude trial, and sickened and died within the 
first two months. At her funeral many speeches were 


made, and the doctor who had attended her, whilst 
declaring that she died of no special malady, counselled 
parents not to send their children to be educated in 
Europe, unless, on their return, they could offer them 
a suitable home. No wonder, under these circum- 
stances, that every educated Haytian girl desires to 
marry a foreigner and quit the country. 

The well-known lawyer, Deslandes, objected to Hay- 
tian children being sent to Paris for their education, as 
likely to introduce into the country French ideas and 
sympathies, and thus imperil their independence. 

At the present time education must be completely 
neglected, as the whole attention of the country is 
devoted to mutual destruction. 


My first experience of a court of justice in Hayti 
was a political trial. Pour of the most respectable and 
respected inhabitants of Port-au-Prince were to be tried 
for their lives on a charge of conspiracy against the 
Government of President Geffrard. My colleagues and 
I decided to be present. On approaching the court- 
house, we saw a considerable crowd collected and some 
military precautions taken. Forcing our way through 
to some reserved seats, we found ourselves in a per- 
fectly plain room, — a dock on the left for the prisoners, 
opposite to them the jury, and seats behind a table for 
three judges, and a tribune for the public prosecutor. 


After a few preliminaries, the trial began with a 
violent denunciation of the accused by the public pro- 
secutor — a stuggy, fierce-looking negro with bloodshot 
eyes, named Bazin, who thought he best performed his 
duty by abuse. As one of the prisoners was a lawyer, 
all the bar had inscribed their names as his defenders, 
and they showed considerable courage in the task they 
had undertaken. On the least sign of independence on 
their part, however, one after the other was ordered to 
prison, and the accused remained without a defender. 

The principal judge was Lallemand, of whom I have 
elsewhere spoken as combining gentleness with firm- 
ness ; but he could scarcely make his authority re- 
spected by Bazin, the military termagant who led the 
prosecution. He browbeat the witnesses, bullied the 
jury, thundered at the lawyers, and insulted the prisoners. 
He looked like a black Judge Jeffreys. At last his 
language became so violent towards the audience, of 
whom we formed a part, that the diplomatic and con- 
sular corps rose in a body and left the court. I never 
witnessed a more disgraceful scene. 

I may add that the prisoners were condemned to 
death ; but we interfered, and had their sentence com- 
muted to imprisonment, which did not last long ; whilst 
their black prosecutor, seized by some insurgents the 
following year, was summarily shot.^ 

1 Military trials have always been a disgrace to Hayti. Even under 
their model President Boyer (1827) they were as bad as they were 
under the Emperor Soulouque or President Salomon. Mackenzie, in 


This experience of the working of the trial-by-jury 
system did not encourage frequent visits to the tribunals, 
and afterwards I rarely went, except when some British 
subject was interested. 

In the capital are the court of cassation, the civil 
and commercial courts, and the tribunaux de paix; 
and in the chief towns of the departments similar ones, 
minus the court of cassation. In fact, as far as pos- 
sible, the French system has been taken as a model. 
The form is there, but the spirit, is wanting. 

The statistical tables connected with this subject 
have been very fully worked out in Major Stuart's 
very interesting Consular Eeports for 1876 and 1877. 
Here I am more concerned in describing how justice is 
administered. I may at once say that few have any 
faith in the decisions of the courts; the judges, with 
some bright exceptions, are too often influenced by 
pecuniary or political considerations, and the white 
foreigner, unless he pay heavily, has but slight chance 
of justice being done him. 

In the police courts the whites know their fate before- 
hand. During my stay in Port-au-Prince foreigners 
tried to keep clear of them, but sometimes they had 
unavoidably to appear. An elderly Frenchman was 

his notes on Hayti, states that no defence was allowed, as that would 
have been waste of time. Four officers were tried and condemned to 
death : their arms were tied, and they were led by a police officer to 
the place of execution. They showed great intrepidity, though the 
soldiers fired a hundred shots before they killed them. President 
Geffrard had certainly more respect for the forms of law. 


summoned before a juge de paix for an assault upon a 
black. The evidence was so much in favour of the 
white that even the Haytian magistrate was about to 
acquit him, when shouts arose in different parts of the 
court, "What! are you going to take part with the 
white ? " and the Frenchman was condemned. So 
flagrant an abuse of justice could not be passed over, 
and the authorities, afraid to have the sentence quashed 
by a superior tribunal, allowed the affair to drop with- 
out demanding the fine. 

An American black came one day to Mr. Byron, our 
Vice-Consul, and said he had been accused of stealing 
a box of dominoes from his landlady, and asked our 
agent to accompany him to court to see justice done 
him. Mr. Byron, knowing the man to be Respectable, 
did so. The accuser stated that whilst sitting at her 
door talking to a neighbour, she saw her lodger put 
the box of dominoes into his pocket and walk off with 
it. She made no remark at the time, but next day 
accused him. The man denied having touched the box. 
The magistrate, however, observed, " She says she saw 
you ; you can't get over that," — and had not Mr. Byron 
remarked that the prisoner's word was as good as the 
accuser's, being at least as respectable a person, he 
would instantly have been sent to prison. 

A remarkable trial was that of two brothers who 
were accused of having murdered a Frenchman, their 
benefactor. The evidence against them appeared over- 
whelming, and their advocate, a thorough rufiian, was 


at a loss for arguments to sustain the defence. At 
last he glanced round the crowded court, and then 
turned to the jury with a broad grin and said, " Apr^s 
tout, ce n'est qu'un blanc de moins." This sally pro- 
duced a roar of laughter, and the prisoners were 
triumphantly acquitted by the tribunal, but not by 
public opinion; and the people still sing a ditty of 
which the refrain is, " Mou^ pas tu^ p'tit blanc-lk," — 
" I did not kill that little white man." 

In 1869, among about fifty political refugees that 
lived for months in the Legation was one of the ac- 
cused. I was standing watching him play draughts 
with another refugee, who did not know the name of his 
opponent, and he kept humming the song about the 
murder, and every time he made a move he repeated 
the refrain, " Mou^ pas tu^ p'tit blanc-1^." I noticed 
his opponent getting paler and paler. At last he pushed 
aside the board, started to his feet, and said, " Do you 
wish to insult me ? " "We were all surprised, when a 
friend called me aside and told me the story of the trial. 

Though more attention has since been paid to words, 
the spirit of the old saying remains — that the whites 
possess no rights in Hayti which the blacks are bound 
to respect.^ 

^ In the Times of December 7, 1886, was published the following : — 
"Fkenoh Advocacy. — Will you allow me to call your attention to a 
charming piece of French advocacy, in the speech for the defence of 
M. Popp, whose acquittal you announce to-day ? ' D'abord,' says the 
learned counsel, ' il ne f aut pas oublier que ce sent des strangers, des 
Anglais, qui plaident centre un Franfais.' I quote from the Gazette 
des Tribunaux for November 25, 1886." 


In civil cases bribery of the judges is notorious, 
and the largest or the most liberal purse wins. Most 
persons carefully avoid a lawsuit, and prefer submitting 
to injustice. 

The judges, curiously enough, are rarely selected 
from among lawyers. The Government can appoint 
any one it pleases, and as these posts are awarded for 
political services, those selected consider that the ap- 
pointments are given to enable them to make their 
fortunes as rapidly as possible. As the pay is small, 
their wives often make it an excuse to keep shops 
and carry on a retail trade ; but the fact is, that the 
Haitienne is never so happy as when behind a counter. 

The active Bar of Port-au-Prince is composed of 
very inferior men. I often heard my friend Deslandes 
address the courts. He was at the summit of his pro-~ 
fession, and to have him for your advocate was popu- 
larly supposed to secure the success of your cause. 
And yet 1 heard this eloquent and able advocate, as 
he was called, whilst defending an Englishman charged 
with have criminally slain an American negro, drop 
the legitimate argument of self-defence, and weary his 
audience for a couple of hours trying to prove that the 
prisoner was an instrument of Divine Providence to 
rid the world of a ruffian. Naturally the Englishman 
was condemned. 

During this trial we had some experience of 
oiScial interpreters. The prosecuting lawyer asked 
the widow of the American negro if the prisoner had 


ever made improper proposals to her: the interpreter 
translated this, "Did the prisoner ever make love 
to you ? " The black woman stared, and presently 
answered, " How could he ? Why, I am a married 
woman ! " The ndivdi of the reply produced a smile 
even on the grave countenance of the judge. 

Whilst in court the lawyers surround themselves 
with heaps of books, and continually read long extracts 
from the laws of the country, or — what they greatly 
prefer — passages from the speeches of the most cele- 
brated French advocates ; whether they explain or not 
the subject in hand is immaterial. I have often heard 
my French colleagues say that they have tried in vain 
to discover what these extracts had to do with the case 
in point. Few of these lawyers bear a high character, 
and they are freely accused of collusion, and of other 
dishonest practices. Unhappy is the widow, the orphan, 
or the friendless that falls into their hands. Many of 
my Haytian friends have assured me that, though they 
had studied for the Bar, they found it impossible to 
practise with any hope of preserving their self-respect. 
No doubt the Bar of Hayti contains some honest men, 
but the majority have an evil reputation. 

The laws of Hayti are not in fault, as they are as 
minutely elaborate as those of any other country, and 
the shelves of a library would groan beneath their 
weight. Had M. Linstant Pradine been able to continue 
the useful publication he commenced — a collection of 
the laws of Hayti — it was his design to have united in 


306' JtJSTICE. 

a regular series all the laws and decrees by which his 
country was supposed to be governed. 

Though a few young men of good position have, 
studied for the legal profession in France, yet the 
majority of the members of the Bar are chosen, among 
the lawyers' clerks, and others who have studied at 
home. A board is appointed to examine young aspi- 
rants ; it consists of two judges and three lawyers. If 
tlie young men pass, they each receive a certificate of 
qualification, countersigned by the Minister of Justice. 
After this simple process thej' can open an &ude on 
their own account. 

One of the greatest difficulties of the diplomatic and 
consular officers in all these American republics is to 
obtain prompt and legal justice for their countrymen. 
Although the juge d'iinstruction ought to finish his work 
at the utmost in two months, prisoners' cases drag on, 
and as the law of bail is unknown, they may be, and 
have been, confined for years before being brought to 

The President of the republic names the justices of 
the peace and their deputies, the judges of the civil and 
criminal courts, the courts of appeal, and the members 
of the court of cassation. All but the first-named 
judges are irremovable according to the constitution; 
but revolutionary leaders are not apt to respect con- 
stitutions, and during President Domingue's time his 
Ministers upset all the old legal settlements. The last 
constitution, that of 1 879, permitted the President to 


remove judges for the space of one year, iu order that 
the friends of the Administration might be appointed 
to carry out their destined work. 

It would be perhaps useless to describe in detail the 
other legal arrangements in Hayti, as they are founded 
on French precedents. 

( 308 ) 



A LARGE portion of the revenues is spent in keeping 
up a nominally numerous army, but in reality the 
most undisciplined rabble that ever were assembled 
under arms. "With the exception of a few hundred 
tirailleurs, who were, in the time of President Geffrard, 
disciplined by an intelligent officer, Potion Faubert, a 
man who had seen service in the French array, the 
regiments have been always composed of the peasantry, 
without any discipline, and officered by men as ignorant 
as themselves. I have seen a battalion on parade num- 
bering thirteen privates, ten officers, and six drummers 
■ — the rest of the men thinking it unnecessary to present 
themselves except on pay-day. 

A French admiral asked permission to see a Sunday 
morning's review. On approaching a cavalry regiment 
equally low in numbers with the battalion mentioned 
above, the President gravely turned to the French- 
man and said, "Beaucoup souffert dans la derniere 

A more motley sight can scarcely be imagined than 

THE ARMY. 309 

a full regiment marching past. Half the men are in 
coats wanting an arm, a tail, or a collar, with a broken 
shako, a straw or round hat, a wide-awake, or merelj' 
a handkerchief tied round the head; officers carrying 
their swords in tlieir right or their left hands accord- 
ing to caprice ; the men marching in waving lines, 
holding their muskets in every variety of position ; 
whilst a brilliant staff, in all the uniforms known to 
the French army, gallops by. President Geffrard used 
to look on with a smile of satisfaction on his face, and 
gravely ask you whether there were any finer troops in 
the world. As I have elsewhere related, the Treasurer- 
in-Chief, who had passed some time in Paris, assured 
him that although the soldiers there were more numer- 
ous, they had. not the tenueoi the Haytian, and suggested 
that it would be as well for the President to send some 
of his officers to France as models for the French army 
to ■ imitate. This is no exaggeration, I have myself 
heard similar observations. The negro is generally an 
ill-made, shambling fellow, who rarely looks well in 
uniform, and detests the service ; but in order to render 
the work less fatiguing for the poor fellows, the sentries 
are provided with chairs ! 

It was after watching such a march-past as I have 
described above that a French naval officer asked me, 
" Est-ce que vous prenez ces gens au s^rieux ? " And 
yet they look upon themselves as a military nation, and 
constantly boast that they drove the English and French 
put of the island; forgetting the part taken by their 

310 THE AIlMY« 

most potent allies, climate and yellow fever; and until 
disease had carried off the mass of their oppressors, and 
the renewal of the war in Europe enabled the English 
to lend their aid, they were crushed under the heel of 
the French. 

The Haytian army has greatly varied in numbers. 
In the early years (1825 to 1830) of General Boyer's 
Presidency it was calculated at 30,000 men, with only 
a fair proportion of officers. Some months after the 
fall of General Geffrard (1867) an account was published 
stating that the army, in round numbers, consisted as 
follows : — 

General officers and staff .... 6500 

Eegimental officers 7000 

Soldiers 6500 


It is never possible to say what is the exact force of 
the army; in a late return it is stated at 16,000, and 
among the non-effectives are about 1500 generals of 
division. However, the old system continues, and to 
most of the battalions the President's observation, 
" Beaucoup souffert dans la derniere guerre," could be 
aptly applied. As Gustave d'Alaux somewhere re- 
marks, " Tout Haitien qui n'^tait pas general de divi- 
sion dtait au moins soldat." 

The cause of the great superabundance of general 
officers arises from nomination to a superior grade bein^ 
a form of reward for political services which costs little. 

.THE ARMY. 311 

Every successful revolution brings with it a fresh crop 
of generals and colonels, as a lesser rank would be 
despised. I know a general who kept a small provision 
shop, and have seen him selling candles in full uniform, 
A counter-revolution made him fly the country, and for 
some time after he was acting as groom in some French 
seaport.^ A Minister of War, wishing to please a 
courtesan, gave her a commission in blank, which she 
sold for about five pounds. 

President Salnave raised a common workman to the 
rank of general of brigade. As he had no money to 
buy a uniform, he began by stealing a pair of gold- 
laced trousers from a tailor's shop, but did not do it 
unobserved. Chase was given, and the culprit fled to 
the palace, and took refuge in Salnave's own room, 
who, however, handed him . over to the police. The 
stolen trousers were then fastened round his neclc and 
a rope secured to one ankle, and in this manner the 
new general was led round the town, receiving every 
now and then blows from the clubs of the soldiers. 
When he was quite exhausted, they mounted him on 
a donkey with his face to the tail, a placard with the 
word " Thief " fixed on his breast, and the gold-laced 
trousers still tied round his neck. 

The great majority of the soldiers are in reality 
civilians, without any military training whatever, but 
they have a hankering for wearing a uniform, which is 

1 Mackenzie tells a story of a town-adjutant calling on him in 
gorgeous uniform ; he next met him cooking the dinner of his host. 

812 THE AEMY. 

partly excusable on account of the respect with which 
the lower classes regard an officer. 

The blacks laugh a little at their own love of gold 
lace. One day, whilst entering the cathedral with the 
diplomatic and consular corps in full uniform, I heard 
a negro say to his companions, " Garde done, blancs 
1&, aim6 galon too !"(" Look, the whites also like gold 
lace !"), and a grunt of acquiescence showed that they 
were not a little pleased to find that the whites shared 
their weakness. " Too," by the way, is almost the only 
English word which remains to testify to our former 
presence in the island. 

Military honour has never been a distinguished 
feature in the Haytian army, — I mean that military 
honour which implies fidelity to the Government that 
they have sworn to serve. This was most marked in 
the revolution which broke out at Cap Haitien in 
1865 under Salnave and Delorme. Nearly every 
superior officer appeared more or less to have betrayed 
General Geffrard; but as they hated Salnave more, 
their treachery consisted in plots, in preventing suc- 
cesses, but not in aiding the enemy. Geffrard knew 
this, and so put over the army General Nissage-Saget, 
an ex-tailor, I believe, who was utterly incapable and 
as unsuccessful as the rest. Salnave could not have 
held his position a week had the officers done their 
duty; but they appeared to think only of how their 
personal interests could be best served, and never of 
the honour or dignity of the Government and country. 

THE ARMY. 313 

Some entered into a conspiracy to murder the President, 
but being discovered, the most compromised fell on his 
knees before Geffrard and pleaded for mercy, which 
was somewhat contemptuously granted, with the re- 
mark, " You are not of the stuff of which conspirators 
should be made." 

There was no want of personal courage shown by 
the chiefs during the long civil war between civil- 
isation and barbarism in 1868 and 1869, and some 
ofiScers showed conspicuous dash and bravery, as Mon- 
plaisir- Pierre (negro) and Brice (coloured), (who sub- 
sequently were foully murdered by order of their then 
ally, Septimus Eameau,) and Boisrond-Canal (coloured), 
who really merited the epithet of sans peur et sans 
reproche which was given him at a banquet at Port- 

Traits of individual courage were constantly occur- 
ling, as during the defence of the town of Les Cayes, 
when young Colonel Lys distinguished himself. He, 
as well as all the bravest and best, has lately fallen a 
victim to the ferocity of the negro authorities. The 
Haytian, however, is not a fighting animal. Housed to 
fury by the excesses of his French masters, the negro 
of the time of the Eevolution fought well, but since 
then many of his military qualities have departed. He 
is still a good marcher, is patient and abstemious; but 
Soulouque's ignominious campaigns in Santo Domingo 
showed that the Haytian soldier will not fight. There 
has been little or no real fighting since; overwhelming 

314 .THE akmy; 

numbers would sometimes endeavour to capture a post, 
but no battle took place during the. civil war of 1869. 
Tlie only really daring act performed by numbers was 
the surprise of Port-au-Prince in December of that 
year, and the chiefs of the expedition were Brice 
and Boisrond-Canal, supported by a land force under 
Oeneral Carrie. 

The ignorance of the officers often leads them into 
ludicrous mistakes. A general commanding at Port- 
au-Prince saw a boat entering the harbour with the 
Spanish flag flying, and he instantly went down to 
the wharf. " Who are you ? " said he to the officers. 
" Spaniards," was the reply. " Paniols ! " exclaimed he ; 
"then you are enemies !" and proceeded to arrest. them, 
under the mistaken idea that all Spaniards must be 
Dominicans, with whom Hayti was at war. It re- 
quired the most vigorous language, and some emphatic 
gestures with his foot on the part of the French Consul- 
General, to prevent the Spanish officers being thrust into 
the common jail. The negro had never heard of Spain, 
although Cuba is within sight of Haytian shores. 

An English admiral. Sir Eodney Mundy, came into 
the harbour of the capital, and President Salnave sent 
an officer on board to welcome our naval chief. This 
was a black general, who, when he got on board, was 
so tipsy that he commenced making formal bows to 
the mainmast, under the mistaken idea that it was the 
admiral, who, hearing of his maudlin state, came to 
receive him on deck, and soon dismissed him. I heard 

THE ARMY. 315 

that he afterwards declared he had seen two admirals 
on board. I knew this man well, and though a tipsy 
savage, was entrusted with a most important military 

The army is legally recruited by conscription, the 
term of service being seven years, though volunteers 
serve only four; this, however, is purely nominal. 
During my stay, the invariable practice was for a 
colonel of a regiment to send out parties of soldiers, 
who seized in the streets any man whom they thought 
would suit. As this only occurred in times of danger, 
or when the President's bodyguard had to be com^ 
pleted, these captured volunteers had the greatest diffi- 
culty in getting free from the clutches of the recruiting 
sergeant. I have seen even deputies and senators walked 
off to the barracks. 

As soon as it is known that the recruiting parties 
are about, men begin to stay at home, and only women 
come in from the country. This brutal system of 
enlistment was one of the causes of the fall of Pre- 
sident Geffrard. To punish the inhabitants of Cap 
Haitien for their unsuccessful insurrection in 1865, 
the President had recruiting parties sent out into that 
town, and the respectable young men were captured by 
dozens, transferred to Port-au-Prince, and forcibly in- 
corporated into the battalions of tiraillexirs. It was 
they who in 1867 gave the signal for those revolu- 
tionary movements which finally upset the President. 
The brutality shown by these recruiting parties is re- 

316 THE ARMY. 

volting, as the men are armed with clubs, and permitted 
to use them at discretion. 

General Geffrard used to harangue these unhappy 
volunteers as if they were burning with enthusiasm 
to join the army, whilst, bleeding, tattered, and torn, 
they listened sulkily to his words, all the time care- 
fully guarded by their brutal captors. Their chief pre- 
tended not to see their state. 

This reminds me of an incident which occurred 
during the late war between Chili and Peru. Some 
hundreds of Indians had been lassoed in the interior, 
and brought down to Lima to fill up the vacancies in 
some regiments. President Prado was urged to address 
them, and they were collected under one of the windows 
of the palace. The general approached with liis staff, 
and leaning out of window, began — " Noble volunteers," 
when he perceived that the men were tied together, 
and that each dozen pairs were secured by a long rope. 
He drew back hastily and said, " Noble volunteers in- 
deed ! I caimot lend myself to such a farce ; " and no 
persuasion would induce him to return to continue his 
speech. President Prado has been deservedly criti- 
cised for his conduct during this war; but had his 
countrymen listened to his advice there would have 
been no conflict between Chih and Peru. 

The pay of the Haytian army is nominally as 
follows : — 

General of division ^140 a year 

General of brigade 105 „ 




Commandant or major 
Sub-lieutenant . 

;£7S a year 



from ^3 to ^5 
£1 10 

The rations of a foot-soldier on duty are about two 
shillings a week, whilst that of a cavalry-man are three 
shillings. As the soldiers not on duty are allowed to 
work, they receive no rations. The President's guard, 
consisting of several battalions, is composed princi- 
pally of the mechanics and respectable labourers of 
the town and neighbourhood, who often paid the 
colonels so much per week to be exempt from active 

The ordinary battalions are recruited among the 
country people, and these rarely present themselves 
except on pay-day. Even for this there is little encour- 
agement, as if they do not present themselves at the 
appointed time the officers divide the balance of the 
pay amongst themselves. If any man persistently 
comes to receive his dues, he is detained to do active 
duty for a month or two, which effectually checks his 
zeal and his love of dollars. 

When the pay of officers is so trifling, it is to be 
supposed that the better classes do not enter the army 
as a profession. The higher grades are generally 
named for political services, whilst the lower are filled 

318 THE AKMY. 

by men raised from tlie ranks. Except in a few special 
cases, it is rare for a man to have gone through all the 
grades of officer. 

The generals are a power in the State, and have to 
be conciliated. ' The most ignorant blacks, as I have 
mentioned, are given the most important commands, 
from their supposed influence among the lower orders, 
whom they perfectly resemble in everything but uni- 
form. They supplement their inadequate pay by every 
illegitimate means. 

President Geffrard had really a desire to form an 
army, but the materials at hand were poor. His 
lower officers were, as usual, taken" from the ranks, and 
inclined to pilfering. A captain was detected in the 
act of robbing the custom-house, and as he had charge 
of the guard, the President determined to make an 
example. I find the anecdote recounted in my journal 
written at the time, and as the incidents are very char- 
acteristic of ' the people I will tell the whole story. 
" The danger of not knowing the connections of those 
to whom you are speaking may' be exemplified by the 
following: — During the inevitable quarter of an hour 
before dinner I was sitting next a charming Hay- 
tian lady, educated in England and married to an 
Englishman, when she began to tell me the news 
of the day. At the parade that morning the Pre- 
sident had ordered the epaulettes of an officer to be 
torn off his coat on account of a petty theft he had 
committed at the custom-house. After he had given: 

THE' ARMY, 319 

the order, the > President tuTned away his head, but 
presently remarked, 'Is he dead yet?' 'Dead!' 
your Exoellency,' exclaimed an aide-de-camp. 'Yes, 
dead. I thought that an officer of my army so pub- 
licly disgraced 'would instantly have put an end to 
his existence.' The lady's anecdote produced a hearty 
laugh, first at the acting of the President, and then at 
the idea of any Haytian officer having a notion of suck" 
delicate honour. I reniarked to my companion that the 
President would have done better, instead of only punish- 
ing the petty thieves, to lay a heavy hand on the great 

robbers, as, ; for instance, Mr. . . The lady quietly 

turned to me and said, ' I am sure you do not know 
that Mr. is my brother.' The start I gave con- 
vinced her that I did not ; but I felt uncomfortable until, 
during dinner, with a nod and a smile, she asked p^e 

to take wine with- her." Mr. had been engaged 

with sonie others in a ditournement, as it was deli- 
cately called, of about seventy thousand dollars, but 
when I knew him afterwards he was Secretary of State 
for Foreign Affairs, and a more unworthy man it would 
have been difficult even for Hayti to produce. 

President Salnave had a favourite regiment that he 
kept up to its full strength, and the rank and file were 
fairly well disciplined. They were the only men in his 
pay who really looked like soldiers, but they were most 
insolent and overbearing. In order to strike terror into 
the capital, Salnave ordered their colonel to march 
them down to the "Ptue des Fronts Forts," where the 


retail shopkeepers live, and there gave them leave 
to plunder. His little speech on this occasion has 
become a proverb in Hayti — " Mes enfans, pillez en 
bon ordre." Whenever there were any political ex.ecu- 
tions, the shooting squad was chosen from among 
them, and they have the discredit of having been 
employed to murder all the political prisoners confined 
in the jaU at Port-au-Prince in December 1869. 

The only battalions which, in time of peace, are 
kept up to their full strength are those which are 
sent from their own districts to garrison distant towns, 
when the men not actually on duty are allowed to 
look for work. 

The Police. 

Of all the institutions of Hayti, the police is certainly 
the worst. There are regular commissaries employed 
under the prefects, but ordinary soldiers do the work of 
constables. In my time they went about the streets 
with a thick stick of lieavy wood in their hands, called 
a cocomacaque, and they used it in such a way as to con- 
firm the remark that cruelty or the utter insensibility 
to the infliction of pain on others was part of a negro's 
nature. Xever did I see a Haytian of the upper classes 
step forward to remonstrate — probably he knew his 
countrymen too well — whilst the lower orders simply 
laughed and enjoyed the sight of the punishment 

Every one arrested accused of a crime is immediately 


treated as if he were guilty and the police were his 
appointed executioners, and their cocomacaques are at 
once brought to play on his head and shoulders. As 
has been observantly remarked : — :" In Hayti no pri- 
soner has any right to be considered innocent." A 
woman living near my house was arrested, accused of 
having killed the child of a neighbour from motives 
of jealousy. They said she was a loup-garou, who had 
sucked the blood of the child, and as soon as the 
soldiers seized her they began to beat her. Before she 
reached the prison she was covered with wounds, and a 
relative who endeavoured to interfere shared the same 

One day, whilst at the American Consulate, I heard a 
disturbance outside. I took no notice at first, but pre- 
sently looking . out, saw the police raising a prostrate 
man. He had been insolent to his overseer, and a 
passing general ordered him to be taken to prison by 
the soldiers who were following him ; they fell upon 
the man, and in a few moments he was a mass of 
bruises, and died before they could drag him to his 
destination. A few weeks after, I saw the body of a 
negro lying near the same spot; it was that of a thief 
on whom the police had executed summary justice with 
their clubs. 

An English merchant saw two soldiers arrest a man 
accused of murder; as he resisted they tied his feet 
together and dragged him along the streets, his head 

bumping against the stones. Our countryman remon- 



strated, but was threatened with the same treatment 
if he dared to interfere. A negro arrested for stealing 
fowls had his arms bound behind him, and a rope 
attached to one anlile, which was held by a policeman, 
whilst another kept close to the prisoner to beat him 
with his club, and as he darted forward to avoid a 
blow the other would pull the rope, and the unfortu- 
nate accused would fall flat on his face. And all this 
done in public before the authorities, both civil and 
military, and no man raising his voice to stop such 
barbarous work. 

Many charitable persons, unwilling to believe that 
the negro police of Hayti could be such brutes as I 
have described them, have thought that I founded my 
assertion on one or two isolated instances, but to prove 
the contrary, I will copy from Haytian journals of a 
comparatively recent date a few cases. 

"On Thursday the 14th April 1887 a scene as sad 
as it was barbarous was enacted by the police in the 
midst of this capital (Port-au-Prince). A man named 
Icsalin, suspected of having committed a robbery at 
Messrs. Chefdruc & Hermantin, was arrested and bound 
with ropes. According to the usual custom, he was 
trotted about in every corner of the town. He was 
surrounded by some epauletted commissaries and sub- 
commissaries of the police, some on foot, the others on 
horseback, nearly all carrying the traditional cocoma- 
caque. The populace followed. The poor suspected one, 
beaten, bathed in his blood and sweat, caused cries of 


indignation and commiseration to be uttered on all 
sides. Two Europeans, not accustomed to such scenes, 
could not but sav, 'What fury of madmen are these 
Haytian police ! ' 

" Icsalin, weak, exhausted, crushed to a jelly under 
the weight of this bastonnade, was at length taken to 
prison. There he had but time to ask for a glass of 
water, when he expired." ^ 

I will give two more accounts taken from the same 
journal : — " A Death in Prison. — Our readers may re- 
member that the individual who had tried to pillage 
the house of M. Marmont Tlambert had been wounded 
by the police ; he was taken to prison in this state. 
His leg was horribly fractured. From want of atten- 
tion mortification soon set in, and presently the exist- 
ence of this unfortunate was in peril. A good woman, 
of whom a few are still found amongst us, overcoming 
her repugnance, wished to assist him in his last moments ; 
she tended as well as she could the putrid limb, and 
talked of God to the dying wretch. He was touched, 
sent for a priest, and confessed with every sign of 
sincere repentance, received extreme unction, and died 
quietly shortly after, and imploring Divine mercy." 
This is from the Haytian clerical journal.^ 

A prisoner is beaten so severely by the police that 
his leg is broken ; in this state he is dragged to prison, 
thrown into a cell, and left to die of gangrene. No 

^ La YeriU, April 23, 1887. 
2 lUd., August 13, 1887. 


doctor, no care, no one to do aught for the poor wretch 
but the charity of a stranger. 

Another case from the same journal : ^ — " On Sundav, 
about eleven o'clock at night, two countrymen, who 
were not sleepy, were amusing themselves playing with 
dice or cards under the gallery of a house in Courbe 
Street. The patrol arrived. One of the young men 
bolted and gained the courtyard where he was accus- 
tomed to sleep. The other was not so prompt; he is 
caught ; a blow from a cocomacaque stops him ; struck 
on the nape of the neck, he fell dead without uttering 
a cry. No means of making pass as a thief this un- 
fortunate one." 

Ashamed of the publicity given to the evil deeds of 
the police and smarting under the remonstrance of a 
foreign Consul, the authorities did give an order against 
the beating of prisoners, but in a most grudging spirit ; 
the order is dated June 25, 1887, and the effect it had 
on the police agents may be judged by the above in- 
stances, which occurred immediately after the issue of 
this mandate. 

As detectives these soldier-police axe quite useless, 
and crime, unless openly committed, is rarely discovered. 
Kobbers have continued in their profession for years, 
though perfectly well known, and no attempt has been 
made to capture them. There was one who was noto- 
rious for the impunity with which he had committed a 
long series of crimes. When he entered a house he 

1 La YiriU, July 1 6, 1887. 


intended to rob, he did so perfectly prepared, stripped 
to the skin, his body well smeared with oil, and 
crawling like a dog, with a knife between his teeth. 
Unluckily for him, one night, being disturbed in his 
operations, he stabbed his assailant, who proved to be 
a senator. It was all very well to rob and stab common 
people, but a senator could not be thus treated with 
impunity, and the man, fearing no pursuit, was quietly 
captured in bed. The commissary of police, thinking 
that the fellow had had rope enough given him, and 
being sure that he would again escape from prison if 
sent there, had him taken out of town, and he was 
promptly shot under pretence of having attempted to 
escape — la ley fug a, as the Spaniards call it. 

A very curious trait of manners came to light in this 
case. The lordly senator was sleeping in the bed, whilst 
his wife was reposing on a mat by its side. Awakened 
by something crawling over her feet, she said, "Mon cher, 
I think there is a big dog in the room." Her husband 
lit a match and saw crouched in a corner a black object, 
which he sprang out of bed to seize, when the robber 
freed himself by a stab with his knife. 

General Vil Lubin was, during the reign of the 
Emperor Soulouque, in command of the arrondissement 
of Port-au-Prince ; he proved efficient in this post, but 
he was a hard man, and one day ordered two soldiers 
to be beaten. Their comrades carried out the order so 
effectually that in a short time two bruised corpses were 
lying at the barrack door. Soulouque heard of it, and 


furious at the treatment of these members of his own 
guard, bitterly reproached Vil Lubin, and for months 
could not meet him without using the expression, 
"Eendez-moi mes soldats." Yet how many hundreds 
had met their death by his order ! In both the civil 
and military administrations brutality is the rule, not 
the exception. 

There has been for many years much talk of estab- 
lishing a rural police to check the pilfering of the 
peasants, but nothing effective has been done. 

The Government rely for the detection of conspiracies 
more upon informers than on the police, and as they 
are to be found in all ranks, friendship is often used 
for the purpose of obtaining information. President 
Gefirard sometimes referred to conversations to which 
members of the diplomatic corps had been parties, and 
perhaps too often, as on comparing notes they were 
enabled to fix on their communicative friends, and were 
thus free to let the President hear their real opinion 
about his measures, only so far, however, as it suited 
their purpose. Under Soulouque the system was car- 
ried to a greater extent, and his suspicious mind made 
him treat as truth every assertion of a spy. One 
day an old beggar-woman, passing before the palace, 
asked alms of some officers who were conversing to- 
gether ; as they paid no attention to her, she ran under 
the Emperor's windows and began shouting, " Emperor, 
they are conspiring against you ! " and made so great 
a disturbance that the guard turned out. The officers 


were too glad to get rid of the old woman by giving 
her money ; she went off laughing, with her hands full 
of notes. 

There was a man whom I knew very well, who was 
considered in society as a secret agent of President 
Geffrard's ; the moment he entered a room, people 
changed their conversation and began talking of the 
weather. Geffrard having at one time a great desire 
to prevent any information reaching a member of the 
diplomatic corps, ordered this person to invite nay 
colleague to his country house, and never let him go 
out of his sight ; he was well paid for this service, but 
his efforts were all in vain, as, although national in- 
terests were concerned, there were plenty of traitors 
who were ready to sell their country, even if only for 
political revenge. 

This secret agent came to a melancholy end ; under 
Salnave he was constantly in dread of being arrested, 
and perhaps shot, and went about repeating the phrase, 
" This revolution is a monster which will devour all its 
own children," and so excited himself that at last he 
felt assured that the police were after him, and rushed 
to take refuge in the English Legation ; but finding me 
out, he went to a friend's house, and there drawing a 
pistol, blew out his brains. 

Under Salnave and Domingue the spy system was 
much employed, and it appears likely that under the 
Government of General Salomon it was rampant, if we 
may judge by the series of military executions which 


marked that Presidency. Society was completely 
broken up, as if three met together one was sure to 
be a spy. Servants were often engaged to repeat the 
conversations of their employers, and I have often been 
reminded by a look of the presence of a listener. 

The jails, as might be expected in such a country and 
among such a people, are filthy places. I often visited 
that of Port-au-Prince; it was then a cluster of low 
buildings, surrounded by a wall about ten feet in 
height, so insecure that no European criminal could 
have been kept there a night, except by his own good- 
will. The ordinary negro, however, has no enterprise, 
and rather liking the lazy life, lies down to sleep out 
his sentence. 

Prisoners condemned to death, and too often political 
suspects, are confined in cells, and are manacled to an 
iron bar running from wall to wall. I looked into one 
and saw five men fixed to the same bar. As I knew 
there were only four condemned to death, I asked what 
was the crime of the fifth. " Oh, he is a military 
deserter, and we did not know where else to put him." 

During General Geffrard's Presidency a little attention 
was paid to the cleanliness of the jails, but during Sou- 
louque's reign and after the fall of Geffrard everything 
was neglected. Our Consul once visited the prison and 
found nine negroes manacled to the same bar, lying 
naked on the floor on account of the stifling heat, and 
the jailer admitted that he had not freed them from the 
bar for above a week, nor had lie thought of having the 


cell cleaned out. The horrible odour issuing from the 
place when the door vas opened fully confirmed the 
latter assertion. 

I knew a general, still living, who had been confined 
from political motives in one of these cells, I believe, 
for seven years, and his manacles were only secretly 
removed by the jailer at rare intervals. This was during 
Soulouque's brutal reign. 

Murderers serving out their sentences, thieves, un- 
important political suspects, imprisoned sailors, untried 
prisoners, are all indiscriminately confined in large rooms, 
opening on a court, and receive their food from friends 
or relatives. Unhappy would be the wretch who had 
no one to care for him, as the pitiful allowance for the 
prisoners, irregularly paid, rarely, if ever, reaches them. 

The system of keeping prisoners year after year in 
prison without being tried is known to all the Ameri- 
can republics of the Latin race. In Hayti it is a very 
common practice. I quote a paragraph of Im ViriU 
of Port-au-Prince of April 14, 1888: — "The 12th, on 
account of the want of a majority of the jury, there 
was no court. The case of the accused, who should 
have been tried that day, was put off till the next 
sessions ; he has already suffered, we are assured, two 
years of prison. It is odious." 

Horatius Gaston, ten months, awaiting trial. 

Murat Bordas, imprisoned April i, 1884, still untried, 
September 10, 1887. 

Massillon Tardieu, fifteen months, awaiting trial. 


La Viriti of September lo, 1887, promised to pub- 
lish a list of these long-detained but untried prisoners, 
which I have not seen. Whilst in Peru a German 
colleague pointed me out a paragraph in a newspaper 
in which it spoke of a prisoner who had been detained 
twenty-five years awaiting his trial. 

Female prisoners are confined in the same building, 
but their rooms open on a separate court. The wife of 
a revolutionary general was imprisoned there in 1869; 
she was for a long time kept in irons, but at length 
heed was given to our remonstrances, and her irons 
were removed. She was a handsome negress, who took 
the jailer's fancy ; he tried to violate her, but the power- 
ful woman thrust him from her cell. He threatened 
vengeance ; but a few nights after, some friends aided 
her to get over the wall of the prison, and she fled to 
our Legation, where she remained over three months, 
and it required the vigorous remonstrances of Lord 
Clarendon to enable us to embark her for Jamaica. On 
the day that we did so, as we approached the wharf we 
noticed a crowd of negroes assembling with the object 
of insulting their countrywoman, but on my giving my 
arm to the black lady, an old negro remarked in their 
jargon, " Consite specie negresse-qi-la " ("The Consul 
shows respect to that negress '), and allowed us to pass 
without a word. The lady was from Cap Haitien, and 
I may add that she was the only refugee out of many 
hundreds that I can remember who ever showed any 
gratitude for the services rendered them. 


All the members of the diplomatic corps, since the 
first acknowledgment of the independence of Hayti, 
have at various times attempted to persuade successive 
Governments to reform their prison system, but never 
with much result. 

In my first edition I only slightly referred to the 
prisons of Port-au-Prince, but even that slight reference 
was looked upon as a calumny. I will therefore add 
to my description that of a Haytian gentleman who 
writes under the signature of Jaques Lourdemain, and 
who visited them in 1887: — "We had scarcely passed 
the door when a sentinel took the trouble to relieve us. 
"We had to give up our canes, umbrellas, all that we 
had, whether in our hands or in our pockets : the austere 
sentinel did not fail to ask for a slight gratification. 
After this exchange of courtesies, let us endeavour 
to penetrate into the first courtyard. It is difficult 
to enter, as the prisoners (condemned or untried, who 
knows ?) arrive from all sides, and press on you, harass 
you, beg with a word salted or not. Prom this crowd 
there arises an odour that one cannot describe. One 
is literally suffocated. Pull of pity, one asks if such a 
stench can come from human beings with the faculty 
of thought, or from unclean beasts invisibly floating iu 
the air: one again asks oneself if such a stench can 
come from places which serve as the habitat of men. 

"Enter quickly into the first court; there you find 
cells in a tolerable state if you compare them with the 
rest of the prison. They have a plank floor ! — clean and 


solid ? On the contrary, but at - all events it is a 
planked floor. It is in these cells the political prisoners 
are kept. 

" In this courtyard you see a kind of latrine ; but it 
is not an ordinary latrine, and then our Haytian visitor 
enters into particulars. 

"A filthy passage leads one into the second court. 
The dungeons are in a miserable condition. Here are 
confined robbers, those condemned to penal servitude, 
and — it is difficult to credit it — military defaulters and 
peasants who have entered the town without permis- 
sion. All this is so repugnant that one cannot remain 
long in this place. Let us quickly pass into the third 
court, which is analogous to the first, and here also 
political prisoners are incarcerated." 

After describing the civil prison, he continues: — 
" IVom a court at the back there arise putrid and fithy 
exhalations fit to give every kind of disease. And 
it is in this court that the soldiers were lodged. 

" To sura up, the prison of Port-au-Prince is a centre 
of infection, a permanent danger not only to the 
prisoners, but to the city. 

" As to the food, it is a wonder that those detained in 
prison do not die of hunger. 

" All the prisoners are equally unclean ; one sees every 
kind of vermin swarming on them." 

I give this abridged account taken from La V6rit6 
newspaper of September 3, 10, and 17, 1887, published 
in Port-au-Prince. 


My account was mild indeed in comparison to that 
of M. Lourdemain, but any long resident in Hayti 
would make the same remark concerning every subject 
I have treated in this work. I was decided that no 
one should ever be able to say with any show of reason 
that I had described things that were not, or had 
exaggerated them, and therefore I have left untold 
many circumstances which I believed to be true, but of 
which I had not convincing proof. It is a remarkable 
circumstance that neither in the newspapers published 
in Hayti, nor in the private correspondence received 
from that republic, nor yet in anonymous letters, has a 
single error been pointed out. Abuse has been lavished 
on me, but no refutation. The training in our service 
prevents our accepting as genuine the stories floating 
on the surface of society. 

Murder is sometimes punished with death, but that 
punishment is generally reserved for political opponents. 
I remember an instance which is worth relating, as it 
displays the Haytian character in the form it assumes 
when excited by political passion. In the autumn of 
1868 five merchants of the southern province were 
captured and brought to Port-au-Prince. As they were 
connected with members of the revolutionary party 
then in arms, the mob clamoured for their lives, and 
they were ordered by President Salnave to be shot. 
As we knew that these men were perfectly innocent, 
the Prench, Spanish, and English representatives made 
an effort to save them, and we called on the Foreign 


Minister to ask him to accompany us to the palace to 
see the President. We were told that he was ill in 
bed and could not go with us. We insisted upon 
seeing him, and found this functionary covered up 
in bed and trembling, not with ague, but with fear. 
We begged him to get up, but he obstinately refused, 
declaring he was too unwell. We could not waste any 
more time, as the execution was to take place within an 
hour, so we left ; but I could not refrain from saying to 
this bedridden gentleman, " In such times as these, sir, 
a Minister has no right to be ill." He never forgave 

We went to the palace, but were refused admittance, 
and only got back to the French Legation in time to 
see the five prisoners pass to execution. Presently one 
returned whom the President had pardoned. 

When the procession arrived at the place of execu- 
tion there was a mob collected of several thousand 
spectators, principally ferocious negresses. A shout 
arose, " We were promised five ! Where is the fifth ? " 
and the crowd closed in on the procession with knives 
drawn and pistols ready. The cowardly officers replied, 
" The fifth is coming," and sent word to President 
Salnave. He, unwilling to disappoint his most faithful 
followers, looked over the list of those in prison, 
and finding that there was a parricide whom he had 
pardoned but the day before, ordered him to execu- 
tion. In the meantime the four others had been kept 
waiting, exposed to the insults of the populace — par- 


ticukrly one prisoner whose long white beard and hair 
and fair skin made him particularly obnoxious. 

The arrival of the fifth prisoner pacified the crowd. 
The five were clumsily shot, and then the spectators 
rushed in with their knives and mangled the bodies 
under every circumstance of obscenity. Such are the 
negresses when excited by political leaders, and such 
were evidently the most devoted followers of President 
Salomon, if we can place any faith in the accounts of 
the fearful atrocities perpetrated by them during the 
massacres of September 1883. 

The chief of this ferocious band was a young negress 
who went by the name of Eoi Petit Choutte, to whom 
President Salnave gave a commission as general. She 
used to come in front of the Legation with some of 
her companions, knife in one hand and pistol in the 
other, and utter ferocious threats on account of our 
having received some political refugees. One day I was 
standing at the door speaking to a Haytian gentleman, 
when he whispered, " Take care ; she is going to stab 
you." I turned my head and saw Choutte approach- 
ing knife in hand. I did not move, but smiled slightly ; 
she hesitated, then walked quickly away with her 

These women were used as a high police to keep 
down disaiTection, and terrible stories are told of the 
murders and cruelties practised by these wretches. 
When the revolution triumphed Eoi Petit Choutte 
was arrested, but though murder could readily have 


been proved against her, she was soon restored to 

As every one in the police department is most in- 
efficiently paid, its members are generally open to bribes, 
and are accused of levying black-mail on the poorer 
inhabitants. During the time of Salnave they were 
unbridled in their savage acts, and every man they met 
in the streets, foreign or native, was liable to be seized 
and sent to the forts as a recruit. As regular com- 
missaries accompanied these bands of police and soldiers, 
the arrests of well-known people were done in a spirit 
of wanton mischief ; at other times it was to obtain a 
pecuniary recompense for their good- nature in releasing 
a foreigner. 

To show how ordinary police affairs are managed in 
Hayti, I must give an account of an incident which 
occurred to the Spanish cliargi d'affaires and myself. 
A dishonest servant forced open the window of our 
wine-cellar and stole eighteen dozen of claret and then 
fled. We gave notice to the police, who were very 
energetic in taking up the case, and every now and 
then brought us information of their proceedings. At 
last they recovered some of the wine, and brought us 
back in triumph two dozen and seven bottles, for which 
they were duly rewarded. A few days passed, and a 
Haytian friend happening to breakfast with us took up 
a claret-bottle and saw the mark, " Chateau Giscours, 
De Luze, Bordeaux." He laughed and said, " Now I 
understand a remark made by the Minister of the 


Interior when he said what capital wine the English 
Minister imported." "We pressed him with questions, 
and he told us that whilst sitting at table with the 
Home Secretary he had been struck by the remark of 
his host, and had looked at the etiquette on the bottles, 
and had noticed that they all bore the name of " De 
Luze," of whose wines we were the only importers. 

On further inquiry, we found that the police had 
recovered fourteen dozen of our wine (the other four 
had been bought of the thief knowingly by a most inti- 
mate French friend), and that they had divided eleven 
dozen and five bottles among various high officials. 
The only observation my Spanish colleague made was, 
" Quel pays ! " but I felt inclined to agree with the 
people when they say of the governing class, "Quel 
tas de voleurs." This Minister of the Interior and re- 
ceiver of stolen goods afterwards took refuge in the 
Legation, and during my absence was shown into a 
strong-room, in which a large amount of De Luze's 
wines were stored. I could not but smile as I saw 
the fallen Minister, surrounded by reminders of those 
happy breakfasts he had given at our expense. 

The robber-servant was afterwards arrested for 
another offence, and I could not but pity him when I 
saw him with his hands tied behind him, bleeding and 
stumbling under the blows of a policeman's club. 

During the siege of Port-au-Prince in the civil war 
of 1868, my French and Spanish colleagues and I were 
walking through the town, when we were startled by 



the sound of firing in the next street. On arriving 
at the spot we found that the police had arrested a 
young Frenchman; as he objected that he was a 
foreigner and not liable to conscription, a crowd soon 
assembled, and a follower of Eoi Petit Choutte's, a fero- 
cious negro, raised his carbine and shot the lad through 
the body, and my French colleague had barely time to 
catch his last words before he expired. 

Nothing that the French representative could say 
had any eflFect on the Haytian Government ; the mur- 
derer was promoted to be a sergeant, and sent to the 
army to get him out of the way; but he soon came 
back to Port-au-Prince, to be more insolent than ever. 
Had the French representative followed the advice of 
his colleagues and of his own naval of&cers, he would 
have given the Haytian authorities twenty-four hours 
to try the murderer by court-martial (the city was 
under martial law), and had the ruffian shot where the 
murder was committed. 

However, we had the satisfaction of knowing that 
when the revolution triumphed this man was con- 
demned to death for his other crimes and executed, a 
more resolute French colleague taking care to be present 
at the final ceremony to see ■ that the sentence was not 
evaded. For kilHng a white he would not have been 
executed, unless his representative would have been 
ready to seize a material guarantee, to be held until 
justice had been done; then, and only then, will the 
Haytian Government do its duty. 


During the Presidencies of Generals Nissage-Saget 
and Boisrond- Canal the police, though as dishonest, 
were less insufferable ; but under Domingue and Salo- 
mon they were worse than ever, as they always are 
under the government of the black section of the 

Under the Salomon regime neither the white nor the 
coloured man had any rights which the black was 
bound to respect. 

( 340 ) 



Theee are two languages spoken in Hayti, French and 
Creole. French is the language of public life and of 
literature, whilst Creole is the language of home and of 
the people. President Geffrard, among other eccentri- 
cities, used to extol the Creole as the softest and most 
expressive of languages, and his countrymen are unani- 
mously of his opinion; but no Frenchman can accept 
as a language this uncouth jargon of corrupt French in 
an African form. 

No doubt African languages, like those of other 
savages, are very simple in their construction, and the 
negroes imported into Hayti learned French words and 
af&xed them to the forms of their own dialects. Mr. 
J. J. Thomas of Trinidad has published a very pains- 
taking grammar of the Creole language as spoken in 
that island. I gather from it that this patois is much 
the same as that spoken in Hayti ; but in our colony it 
holds the position of the Saxon in the Norman period, 
and interpreters are required in our law-courts to explain 
the language of the people. It shows also that in the 


French colonies of Martinique and Guadalonpe, as in 
our Prench-speaking colonies, wherever the negroes 
attempt to express themselves in French, they do so 
in the same way that the Creole is spoken in Hayti. 
I may add that the patois of the inhahitants of the 
interior is so corrupt and African, that those who can 
converse freely with the negroes of the coast are often 
puzzled when they visit the mountains, and require 
an interpreter. 

As this Creole language is spoken hy about a million 
and a half of people in the different islands of the 
West Indies, it merits the attention which Mr. Thomas 
has bestowed upon it ; and I would refer those curious 
on the subject to this elaborate work, in which 
everything possible is done to raise the status of a 
patois which remains still, in my opinion, but an un- 
couth jargon. 

There is naturally no Creole literature, but there are 
many songs and proverbs, some of which may serve to 
show the kind of language spoken by the Haytians. 

The only songs which I can quote are written by 
persons familiar with the French language, and there- 
fore do not sufficiently represent the pure Creole. The 
proverbs, however, are genuine, and are therefore the 
reflex of popular ideas. 

Moreau de St. Mery, who lived in Hayti during the 
latter part of last century, quotes a song written about 
the year 1750, which, though often reprinted, I will 
insert here, with a translation made by a Creole some 



years later. St. M^ry has all Geffrard's admiratioii 
for the Creole language, and thinks that the inarticu- 
late sounds, which cannot be rendered on paper, are the 
most admirable part of the language of the Haytians, 
and perhaps it may be so : — 


Lisette quitt^ la plaine, 

Mon perdi bonheur h mon^, 

Gie k moin sembl^ fontaine, 

Dipi mon pas mir6 toue. 

La jour quand mon coupe canne. 

Mod. songe zamour k moue, 

La nuit quand mon dans cabane 

Dans dromi mon quimbe toue. 

Si to all^ h. la ville 
Ta trouv^ geine candio, 
Qui gagnS pour tromp^ fille 
Bouche doux pass6 sirop. 
To va cr^r yo bin sincdre 
Pendant quior yo coquin ho, 
C'est serpent qui contrefaire 
Cri6 rat, pour tromper yo. 

Dipi mon perdi Lisette, 
Mon pas souchi^ Oalenda, 
Mon quitte bram bram sonnette, 
Mon pas batte bamboula. 
Quand mon contr^ laut' negresse 
Mon pas gagne gie pour li, 
Mon pas soucbie travail pi^ce 
Tout qui chose k moin mouirL 

Mon maigre tant com 'guon souche, 
Jambe k moin taut comme roseau. 
Mange na pas doux dans bouche. 
Tafia m6me c'est comme dyo. 
Quand mon song^ toue Lisette, 
Dyo toujours dans gi^ moin, 
Magner moin vini trop bSte 
A force chagrin magne moin. 


Lisette tu fuis la plaine, 
Mon bonheur s'est envole, 
Mes pleurs en doubles fontaines 
Sur tous tes pas ont couI4 
Le jour moissonnant la canne 
Je reve k tes doux appas, 
TJn songe dans ma cabane 
La nuit te met dans mes bras. 

Tu trouveras k la ville 
Plus d'un jeune freluquet, 
Leur bouche avec art distille 
Un m.iel doux mais plein d'apprdt. 
Tu croiras leur coeur sincere, 
Leur coeur ne veut que tromper : 
Le serpent sait contrefaire 
Le rat qu'il veut d^vorer. 

Mes pas loin de ma Lisette 
S'^loigneut du Calenda, 
Et ma ceinture k sonnette 
Languit sur mon bamboula. 
Mon ceil de toute autre belle 
N'aper^oit plus le souris, 
Le travail en vain m'appelle 
Mes sens sont an^antis. 

Je p^ris comme la souche. 
Ma jambe n'est qu'un roseau, 
Nul mets ne plait k ma bouche, 
La liqueur se change en eau. 
Quand je songe k toi, Lisette, 
Mes yeux s'inondent de pleurs, 
Ma raison, lente et distraite, 
C^de en tout k mes douleurs. 


Liset' mon tarcl^ nouvelle, Mais est-il bien vrai, ma belle, 

To compt^ bint6t tourn^, Dans peu tu dois revenir : 

Vini done toujours fid^e, Ah ! reviens toujours fidMe, 

Mir^ bon, passi tand^. Croire est moins doux que sentir. 

N'a pas tard4 davantage, Ne tarda pas d'avantage, 

To fair moin assez chagrin, C'est pour moi trop de chagrin, 

Mon tant com 'zozo dans cage, Viens retirer de sa cage 

Quand yo fair li mouri faim. L'oiseau consume de faim. 

It will readily be remarked that every word is a 
corruption of a French one, and as no standard of 
spelling can exist in what may be called an unwritten 
language, every writer has a distinct system of repre- 
senting Creole sounds. The seductive beauty of this 
language can only be for the initiated, as the beauty of 
the native women is rarely remarked except by those 
who have made a long voyage, and have almost for- 
gotten what beauty is. The versified translation of the 
song does not give" an exact idea of the construction of 
the Creole sentence ; I may therefore insert one verse 
with an interlined literal translation : — 

Lisette, quitte la plain e, 

lAsette, quitta la plaine, 

Mon perdi bonheur a moud, 

Je perdis mon bonheur, 

Gie k moin sembl^ fontaine 

Mes yeux semUaient une fontaine 

Dipi mon pas m^ir^ tend. 

Depuis je ne te vois pas. 

La jour quand mon coupe canne 

Lejour quand je coupe la canne 

Mon songe zamour k mou6 ; 

Je pense d mes amours ; 

La nuit quand mon dans cabane 

La nuit quand je suis dans ma cabcme 


Dans dromi mon quimbe tou^. 
Dans un songeje te tiens. 

It is very difficult to find any very definite rules 
of grammar in this song — 

Lisette quitt^ (Lisette has left or left), 
Mori coup6 canne (I cut the cane), . 
Si to alle (if thou shouldst go), 
Ta trouv6 (thou wilt find), 
Qui gagn6 (who possess). 






Absolutely the same form is preserved in all tenses 
and moods, and in conversation various expedients are 
adopted to render the meaning clear. 

A. M. L'Herison, a Haytian, has written a song, 
which is quotediin Mr. Thomas's grammar, and as it 
represents the cultivated Creole of the present day, it is 
worth whUe inserting it : — 

Badinez bien avec Macaque. 

Grand 'maman mom dit : nans Guinee 

Grand mouche rassemble youn jour 

Toute pepe li contre nan tournee 

Et pis li parle sans detour : 

Quand zot allez foncer nan raque 

Connain cotoient grand moune agi 

Badinez bien avec Macaque, 

Mais na pas magnie queue k li 

Grand 'maman moin, dit nioin bon qui chose 

L6 li prend bon coup malavoume. 

Li dit moin com ja, " Monrose," 

Nan tout 'grand zaffaires faut dit " Houme " 

Mais peut-on flanque moin youn claque 

On pildt terminer ainsi ; 

Badinez bien avec Macaque 

Mais na pas magnie queue h, li 


To get the true ring of popular Creole it is necessary 
to examine their proverbs. M. J. J. Audain, a -well- 
known Haytian, -whose first literary efforts brought 
him into trouble, has published a collection which is 
very complete.^ As Hayti becomes older as a nation 
and loses its French element, -we may have a distinct 
Creole literature. There • are many proverbs in M. 
Audain's collection that -would be quite incomprehen- 
sible to an untravelled Prenchlnan : — 

16. Souffle fatras pou ou bonais d'lo. 

17. Bonais d'lo, ranne oouie. 

124. Quand digdale vernis piqude, cale basse vide dou^e 
priiiga corps li. 

The following are easy enough to understand : — 

174. Bour6 empile pas all^ avee pite figu. 

(Too much, hair does not suit a little face.) 
60. Gi ouait, bouche p(5. 

(The eyes see, the mouth speaks.) 
73. Chique pas janmain respects pi6 grand mouche. 
(Jiggers never respect the feet of the gentry.) 

Some are so simple that they do not require trans- 
lation, as — 

Moune qui rond pas capable vini carr^, 

Zafaire mouton, pas zafaire cabrite. 

Calle poiiesson, pas I'agent (argent). 

Toute bois c^ bois, main mapou pas cajou. 

C6 Soulier qui connain si chaussons gangnain trou. 

Quand ravette fait danse li pas janmain invito poule. 

Pas janmain couri deux chimins k la fois. 

Toute pou^sson mang^ moune, c^ requin seul qui p6t5 bMme. 

La fimee pas janmain 16vde sans difd. 

^ Recueil de Proverbes Creoles. Port-au-Prince, 1 87 7. 


M. Audain's collection contains one thousand and 
eleven proverbs; they are constantly quoted by the 
people, who interlard their conversations with them 
as much as ever Sancho Panza did. When speaking 
of a very talkative person, they say, "Bouche li pas 
gagn^ dimanche " (" His mouth has no Sunday or day 
of rest"). 

It is scarcely necessary to multiply specimens of 
Creole proverbs or translations. The former certainly 
convey a better idea of the language spoken by the 
negroes than the latter, though, as written, it is much 
more easily understood than when it is spoken. The 
negroes appear often to clip their sentences, and leave 
it to the intelligence of the hearer to divine their 

In the newspaper Le Peuple of May 7, 1887, there is 
given a speech in Creole by General Salomon, which 
contains not only an excellent lesson in political 
economy, but another on marriage and the education 
of children. It begins thus : — 

" Mes Zaumip, — Tous les ans nou vini fet^ avec moin, fete de 
I'agriculture. Annie cil^ li caK montd empile, main ce pas moin. 
qui fait li monte-ou tendi. Eicolte cafe manqui Ian toutes pays. 
Ici li donnam moin I'annie cili la passi les autes. Ce qh, qui fait 
li monti. lodi yo paye ou 20 gourdes pou cent livres. C6 pas 
moin qui paye ou 20 gourdes, ni qui fait li monte comprenne 9J1 
bien, parceque si moiu pas fait li mont6, moin pa 5a fait li dis- 
cenne. lodi yo payi paye cafe cher, demain si li tombi, c6 pas le 
moin qui vacause li tombe. Lors cafe empille Ian toutes pays for 
li tombi lors li manqu6 comme a I'heur qui Test, for li monti. 
Moin pa 5a fait li monte, ni fait li d6scenne, comprenne moin 


bien. Mes Zaumis, zautes va fait bien maii^s parceque si zautes 
fait pitites avec deux ou trois manmans, lor zautes va mouri 
chaque pitite va vl^ pien pait li. Eh bien gangnain youn bete 
yo belle fond^ de pouvoir c& li qui va mang^ tout 5a zautes va 
quitt6, tandis que si zautes marids aveo contra mari&,ge, caille 
officier I'dtat civil pitites zautes va montrd papi6 Ik, et pi c& yes 
seuls qui va b&ities terras et caiUes zautes. Maries tout suite, la 
va bon pou zautes. 

" Moin I'ouvri IMcole tout patout ou doud voyd pitite ou I'dcole, 
parceque si ou fait youn zafaire, yo capable bailie ou youn inauv§ 
papid ou va prend li, tandis que si pitite ou connain li, li va dit 
ou papa zafaire la pas bon. Voy6 toutes pitites zautes I'dcole." — 
Le Peuple, May 7, 1887. 

Official documents are always written in French, 
more or less correct; it is therefore unnecessary to 
refer particularly to them; but I may remark that 
they have a set stock of phrases which are constantly 
repeated. I will, however, quote a short official letter 
which amused us. 

A Haytian had committed, or was supposed to have 
committed, a crime, and instead of being arrested and 
tried, he was ordered to be banished. The letter ad- 
dressed to him was as follows : — 

Libert^, Egalit:^, Frateknit^. 


No. 392. Q0ARTiER-G:fiN:fiEAL DE Port-au-Princb, 

Ze 30 Avril 1867, 
An 64' de I'Independance. 

Le Gdn&al de Division, Chef d'dxdoution de la volonte du 
peuple souvrain, et de ses resolutions, et Vice-Pr&ident du 
Gouvernement Provisoire, 


An CiTOYEN Jules C . 

MoiJSiEUR, — Des la presente regue, vous aurez a cliercher une 
occasion pour les plages etrangeres, afin que vous partiez du pays 
qui a reconnu en vous I'homme qui clierche h, pervertir la soci6t^ 
liaitienne. — Je vous salue. 

(Signed) V. Chevalier, G. 

This Monsieur Chevalier had been educated in France, 
and was shrewdly suspected of having had a hand in 
drawing up the Acte de ddchdance launched by the re- 
volutionary committee of St. Marc in 1867 against 
President Geffrard. Amongst the different articles are 
the following : — 

" Attendu que le General F. Geffrard assassins et empoisonne 
les citoyens les plus eminents d'Haiti : attendu qu'il entretient a 
I'etranger untres grand nombre d'espions et d'empoisonneurs d an. 
prix exorbitant : attendu que toutes les ecoles de filles de la r^pub- 
lique, notamment celles de Port-au-Prince, out pour maitresses 
des femmes d'une vie dissolue, afin de faire de ces dtablissements 
des niaisons de seduction k son profit," &c., &c. 

A Frenchman inc[uired, " Etait-il indispensable pour 
incriminer Geffrard sur ce dernier chapitre de faire tort 
k toutes les demoiselles du pays ? " 

Among the most remarkable works published in 
Port-au-Prince may be noticed the " History of Hayti," 
by Thomas Madiou (clear mulatto). As it was written 
in the republic by a Haytian for Haytians, it may be 
judged from that point of view. I have read it with 
great care and with considerable interest, and some of 
the descriptions have been much admired, as the de- 
tailed account of the attacks of the French on the 


Crete-k-Pierrot. As an historical production it is a 
work of considerable value and merit, for although full 
of prejudiced statements, and with a strong leaning 
against foreigners, there is, as far as local politics are 
concerned, an apparent desire to be impartial. This, 
however, is not the general opinion. St. E^my, in his 
" Life of Toussaint L'Ouverture," speaking of Madiou's 
history, says, "Du reste qu'il soit dit en passant que 
tout le livre de Monsieur Madiou n'est qu'un tissu de 
faits ^rron^s et de fausses appreciations." The French 
condemn it as a false account of the war of independ- 
ence, and resent the implied defence of Dessalines' 
massacres. His partiality may be proved by his assert- 
in" that the French Governor Blanchelande was the 
instigator of the black insurrection against the whites. 
Madiou wrote his history whilst in Hayti, and after 
searching for materials among the old survivors of the 
war, whose prejudices were still warm. No doubt he 
was influenced by them, but the industry shown is un- 
doubted. The friends and admirers of Toussaint had, 
however, a right to complain of the evident wish to 
depreciate the qualities of almost the only black Hay- 
tian who rose above mediocrity. 

Occasionally M. Madiou's style is very extravagant, 
as in the description of a battle (see below ^) which took 

' Vol. ii. p. 24 : — "Lea legionnaires au nombre de 800 environ furent 
enveloppfe de toutes parts ; ils se trouvaient sans nul espoir ; assures 
de leur mort, mais r^solus de se bien d^fendre, ils se retranohaient sous 
la mitraille la plus meurtrifere, les uns derrifere des arbres renversi^s, 
d'autres derrifere d'enormes pierres ; percds de coups de baionettes, 


place between the coloured men of Jacmel and their 
hlack antagonists. Never was there such desperate 
fighting since the days when — 

" For "Witherington. needs must I wayle, 
As one in doleful dumps, 
For when his legs were smitten off, 
He fought upon his stumps." 

M. Madiou is a mulatto who has played a prominent 
part in the history of his country, and his leanings are 
evidently in favour of his own colour, and, as I have 
observed, he is severe on Toussaint L'Ouverture for his 
endeavours to crush the attempts at independent com- 
mand made by Eigaud. 

Another work of inestimable value for the students 
of Haytian history is the one written by M. Beaubrun- 
Ardouin (fair mulatto). It is entitled "Etudes sur 
I'Histoire d'Haiti." M. Ardouin attempted to collect 
in this work all the documents that could illustrate 
the history of his country, and at the time of his 
death ten volumes had already been published.' He 
was for many years Haytian Minister in Paris, which 

cribl^s de balles, ils combattaient toujonrs avec une intrepidity sans 
^gale ; plusieurs ayant le bras coup^ se defendaient avec celui qui 
leur restait ; ceux qui par la perte de leur sang ne pouvaient plus se 
tenir debout se trouvaient sur leurs g^noux, combattaient encore avec 
fureur, se faisaient un rempart des corps expirfe de ceux qui ^taient 
tomb^s," &c., &C. 

As a specimen of style I add the follov?ing from La Veriti of August 
13, 1887 : — " Mais arriv^ sur les lieux le Commandant de I'arrondisse- 
ment : tout change. II fit battre la charge et entraina le peuple dans 
les flammes." 


gave him full opportunities for examining the French 
archives. I only knew him slightly ; he was evidently 
a man of talent and industry, but as he was justly 
credited with a prejudice against the whites, he was 
generally avoided by them. 

A Monsieur St. Eemy of Les Cayes wrote a Life of 
Toussaint, which is but a poor production, and is full 
of prejudice and virulence against both black and 

A. Frenchman, M. Edgar la Selve, has published a 
work called " L'Histoire de la Litt^rature Haitienne." 
It is a volume of some interest, containing as it does 
a collection of poetry written by natives, but it is con- 
sidered to be inferior in point of style and extravagant 
in its appreciations. When you find M. La Selve 
ranking the crude productions of a rude school with 
the writings of the most distinguished among ancient 
and modern authors, one may readily feel that this 
work is an offering to the vanity of acquaintances. 

It is to be regretted that a person like M. La Selve 
should have undertaken this task, as, instead of real 
criticism, which might have proved of value, he puffs 
up the vanity and presumption of Haytian writers by 
such observations as the following : — " Eapelle I'invoca- 
tion de Pindare '' — " La grande Eloquence et la mag- 
nificence des images '' — " Sa plume magique " — " La 
d^licatesse de Charles Dovalle combinde avec la grace 
de Lamartine" — "Le nom modestement glorieux" — 
" Esprit vraiment prodigieux et universel " — " Trois 


g^uies sup^rieurs " — " Get autre Augustia Thierry " — 
" Comparer anx dialogues de Platon." 

What more could be said of the best classics ? E'o 
■wonder this work was unable to command any atten- 

In the collection of poetry, it wUl be noticed that 
although there are some very pretty verses, there are 
none of any remarkable merit. It is not a special 
literature ; there is seldom much local colouring : it is 
rather a reflection of French productions where Lamar- 
tine holds the place of honour. 

It has been remarked by a French critic that the 
further we recede from the time of the Declaration of 
Independence the worse the poetry. The expressions 
become less exact, the phraseology common, the style 
incorrect, with less cadence in the verses. The versi- 
fication is seldom accurate throughout any of these 
poems. It is but another proof of what I have else- 
where stated, that Hayti is in a state of decay. 

I may mention a few pieces that have struck a 
French friend as being among the best. I prefer his 
judgment to my own, as I am one of those who believe 
that few can appreciate fuUy the poetry of another 

^ It appears that after 11. La Selve left Hayti he published some 
■worts on the country which did not please his friends. Had he sus- 
pected that authors whom he could only compare to Augustin Thierry 
and Plato would thus maltreat him he would^have held his hand : — 
"H est difficile de rgver rien de plus idiot, de plus indigeste at de plus 
crevant que cette turlupinade," &c. "Ce speculateur en scandales." 
"D'une niaiserie k vous d&rocher la machoire." — L'OEil, April 21, 1887. 


nation; but as, in this case, my own opinion agrees 
with that of my friend, I can take the responsibility 
of the judgment. 

Coriolan Ardouin (mulatto) has written a very 
charming piece called " Alaida," beginning thus : — 

" Sur la natte de jono qu'aucuii souci ne ronge, 
Ses petits bras croisds sur uu coeur de cinq ans, 
Alaida someille, heureuse, et pas un songe 
Qui tourmente ses jeunes sens.'' 

There is no local colour in this sonnet beyond, per- 
haps, the natte de j'onc. Only in the tropics are chil- 
dren to be seen sleeping on mats. 

Duprd has written a patriotic hymn which might 
pass muster among many others of the same kind. It 
closes with the following ferocious sentiment : — 

" Si, quelque jour, sur tes rives 
Osent venir noa tyrans. 
Que leurs hordes fugitives 
Servent d'engrais h, nos champs." 

Pierre Faubert (mulatto) has written several pieces 
which might be quoted : — 

" La Nj^gresse. 

" Je suis fier de te dire, n^gresse, je t'aime, 
Et la noir couleur me plait, sais-tu pourquoi ? 
C'est que nobles vertus, chaste ccEur, beauts meme 
Sont ce qui charme enfin, le ciel a mis en toi." 

These lines might have been addressed to the pretty 

negress of P^tionville of whom I have elsewhere spoken. 



Another, " Aux HaitieDS," is an appeal to union 
among blacks and coloured. 

There is a pretty song by Milscent (mulatto), in the 

style of B^ranger, commencing : — 

" J'entends en mainte occasion 
Precher contre rambition ; 
Mon ame en est ravie — (bis.) 
Mais oeux qui nous parlent si bien 
Regorgent d'honneurs et de biens 
Cela me contrarie" — (bis.) 

Ignace N"au (mulatto) contributes a very attractive 

piece called " Le ' Ttchit ' et I'Orage : "— 

" Voici, voici I'orage, 
La bas dans le nuage ; 
Voici le vent, le vent 
Tourbillonnant an cbamp, 
Et disant au feuillage 
Eepliez votre ombrage. 
Au lac, a ses bambous, 
' Eoulez, agitez vous.' 
Au parfum ses d^Uces 
' Refermez vos calioes ; ' 
Au palmier baut dans I'air, 
Gardez-vous, de TeclaiT.' 

Pauvre tchit 6gare, chetif oiseau des cbamps ! 
Le mont a disparu sous les rideaux de pluie. 
Hate-toi, cher oiseau ; viens t'abriter du temps, 
Deji I'eau du lac est ternie.'' 

And many more verses equally good. 

Perhaps the most poetic piece in the collection 
is that written by a Haitienne, Virginie Sampeur. 
" L'Abandonnee/' which I will quote entire : — 


' Ah ! si vous 6tiez mort, de mon ivae meurtrie, 
Je ferais une tombe, oti, retraite cli^rie, 
Mes larmes couleraient lentement, sans remords : 
Que votre image en moi resterait radiense. 
Ah ! si vous dtiez mort.^ 

Je ferai de mon. cceur I'urne melancolique 
Conservant du pass6 la suave r^lique, 
Comme ces coffres d'or qui gardent les parfums ; 
Je ferais de mon S,me une riche chapelle 
Oil toujours brillerait la dernifere etincelle 
De mes espoirs ddfunts. 

Ah ! si vous ^tiez mort, votre dternel silence 
Moins Spre qu'en ce jour aurait son Eloquence, 
Car ce ne serait plus le cruel abandon. 
Je dirais, il est mort, mais il sait bieu m'entendre; 
Et peut-gtre en mourant n'a-t-il pent se defendre 
De murmurer : — Pardon. 

Mais vous n'etes pas mort ! Oh ! douleur sans mesure, 
Regret qui fait jaillir le sang de ma blessure : 
Je ne puis m'empScher, moi, de me souvenir, 
Meme quand vous restez devant mes larmes vraies 
Sec et froid, sans donner k mes profondes plaies 
L'aumone d'un soupir. 

Ingrat ! vous vivez done, quand tout me dit vengeance ! 
Mais je n'^coute pas ! k defaut d'esperance 
Une fantome d'idole est mon unique port, 
Illusion, folie, ou vain rgve de femme, 
Je vous aimerais tant, si vous n'etiez qu'un ame. 
Ah ! que n'etes vous mort." 

There is something superior in the tone and senti- 
ment of this piece, the only one of the author that 

' There is a line wanting in this stanza, which the authoress herself 
has not been able to remember. 


M. La Selve publishes. I may notice that Virginie 
Sampeur is a lady of colour. As she is still living, I 
will only add that her poem tells her own story. As 
a rule, these Haytian poets express fairly well all 
tender sentiments, but they are wanting in a careful 
literary education, and they have not a very exact 
appreciation of the genius of the French language. 

In miscellaneous literature there are many publica- 
tions of merit. Emile Nau wrote an interesting book 
called " Histoire des Casiques," although a critic might 
fail to discover in it " une mine immense d'^rudition." 
It is seldom that a Haytian writer dedicates himself 
to anything useful, so that the efforts of Eugene IsTau 
to bring superior agriculture into vogue have a double 
merit. He is best known for his two productions, 
" L'influence de 1' Agriculture sur la Civilisation des 
Peuples " and his " Flore Indienne." I knew Eugfene 
Nau very well. He was married to a very charming 
woman, a sister of Auguste Elie, and no one who has 
passed a few days at their estate in the plains of Cul- 
de-Sac will ever forget the pleasant gaiety that reigned 
in that house. Civil war has, however, devastated 
that portion of the country, and I fear that even the 
inexhaustible spirits of Eugfene Nau will scarcely be 
able to bear him through such accumulated misfor- 
tunes. The small diplomatic corps were ever wel- 
come guests at Digneron, and I recall with pleasure 
the evenings spent there with my French and Spanish 
colleagues. He had a fund of intelligence and good 


sense ; and his steady advocacy of a metallic currency 
did honour to his perspicacity. 

As might have been anticipated, the black portion 
of the population has shown no literary aptitudes. 
Occasionally an Edmond Paul has written a political 
essay which has fallen flat, or a Salomon has indited 
a vigorous defence of his policy ; but, as a rule, the 
coloured portion of the population has produced the 
historians and poets of Hayti. 

( 358 ) 



M. Eugene Kau, in his pamphlet on the influence of 
agriculture on civilisation, endeavoured to bring his 
countrymen to look with favour on the principal source 
of prosperity in all tropical countries; but the seed 
he sowed fell on revolutionary soil, and agriculture is 
more neglected than ever. 

And yet in all the wide world there is not a country 
more suited to agriculture than Hayti ; not one where ' 
the returns for labour are more magnificent ; a rich, 
well-watered soil, with a sun which actually appears 
to draw vegetation towards itself with such energetic 
force that the growth of plants, though not actually 
■visible to the eye, may be almost daily measured. 

The system of cultivation varies greatly. In the 
north an effort was made by King Christophe to keep 
up large estates, whilst in the west and south Presi- 
dent Petion encouraged the division of the land among 
peasant proprietors. Large estates still remain, how- 
ever, in these provinces, which are cultivated under 
different arrangements, to which I will hereafter refer. 


The general rule is that large estates obtain mostly in 
the plains, whilst in the mountains the land is prac- 
tically in the hands of the peasantry, though many 
large estates exist nominally. 

In 1877 ^ l^'w ^^^ passed for regulating the man- 
agement of the State domains, for selling them or 
leasing them for nine years. A longer lease would re- 
quire a special authorisation of the Legislature. This 
last clause is principally aimed at foreigners, whom 
the Haytians desire to keep away from all interest 
in land. 

The national estates lie in different parts of the 
country, and the extent of them in the aggregate is 
but imperfectly known, owing to careless administra- 
tion. According to an official return published in 
1877, there were under lease 2105 farms of national 
land, containing about 230,000 acres, let on an average 
at the rate of two shillings per acre. 

The laws on the tenure of real estate are, with some 
modifications, the same as the agrarian laws that were 
framed by the French during their possession of the 
country, and are remarkable for that minute accuracy 
and definition of right which characterise French laws 
in general. 

For the better elucidation of the subject a few re- 
trospective notices are necessary. 

Going back to 1804, the year of independence, one 
of the first acts of Dessalines was to create a national 
domain out of the following elements : — 


All the real estate which constituted the State 
domains during the French period. 

All the real estates of the whites which had not been 
legally transferred. 

All land without owners. 

Confiscated lands. 

In furtherance of his project to get the best part of 
the land into the hands of Government, Dessalines is 
accused of resorting to every kind of arbitrary and cruel 
acts, and did not even disdain to encourage forgery in 
order to dispossess those proprietors who stood firm to 
their rights. This attack on private property was one 
of the main causes of the successful plot against his 

Of the national estate thus formed a great part was 
subsequently parcelled out by Petion in donations to 
those who had deserved well in the war of independ- 
ence, whilst other lots were sold in fee-simple. 

Of the class of large proprietors created under the 
republic of Petion but few undertook the cultivation 
of their own lands. The usage at once came into 
favour of letting them out in small lots to working 
men on the Metayer system, the landlord to receive 
half the produce, on the condition of furnishing, on 
sugar-cane estates, the mill and the other necessary 
appliances. With regard to produce, there are two 
classes recognised and kept distinct by law, namely, 
" la grande culture " (large farming) and " la petite cul- 
ture " (small farming). The first consists in the cultiva- 


tion of sugar-cane and similar articles ; the second in 
the cultivation of provisions for the market. As under 
the " grande culture " system half the produce went to 
the proprietor, the tendency has been for some years to 
encroach with the "petite culture " on the lands reserved 
for the former. Each peasant is allowed a patch of 
ground near his portion of the cane-field on which to 
grow vegetables, and it has been found that his at- 
tention is more directed to this than formerly. As 
long as the sugar-cane is reserved for the manufacture 
of cheap rum to keep the population in a continued 
state of intoxication, the falling off in its culture is 
not to be regretted. In fact, the " great " and " little " 
culture did very well when anything exportable was 
cultivated, but now are of little practical importance, 
as they do not so much affect the great stay of the 
country, the coffee-crop.^ 

I may repeat that the first thing in point of im- 
portance in Haytian agriculture is the coffee-shrub, 
which grows almost wild in every mountainous part of 
the country and around the cottages of the peasantry 
at elevations of from 500 to 7000 feet above the level 
of the sea — ^wild in the sense that the plants appear to 
spring from the seeds that have fallen from the parent 
trees, though occasionally I have seen them carefully 
planted round the cottages. 

^ I would refer to Major Stuart's excellent Report for 1877 for de- 
tails on these subjects. I have myself partly founded my observations 
on this Report. 


There is a notion in Hayti that the coffee-crop will 
come to an end by the old trees dying out. I was told 
this twenty-five years ago, and the story is still re- 
peated; but any one who observantly travels in the 
interior will find the old trees surrounded by younger 
ones that spring from the teeming soil from seeds 
scattered by the wind or rain. The idea, also preva- 
lent among many foreigners in Hayti, that the coffee 
collected now is taken from the original trees planted 
by the French is untenable. As soon as the civil war 
caused by King Christophe's assumption of power ceased 
(1820) a marked progress took place in the production 
of cofiee. There is another fact which is also forgotten; 
coffee-plants in wet tropical countries generally bear 
from twenty to twenty-five years ; therefore their dura- 
tion may be taken at about thirty years. If this state- 
ment be correct, the trees must have been renewed 
three times since the old colonial days. Most of the 
coffee-plantations I saw in Hayti contained shrubs that 
have seldom exceeded from seven to ten feet in height, 
though on the way to Kenskoff I noticed many from 
twelve to fifteen feet. At Furcy and at La Selle we 
saw some very good plants, properly cleaned and 
attended to, and kept at a suitable height for pick- 
ing the berries. Mackenzie noticed, in 1827, whole 
sides of mountains covered with coffee-trees of spon- 
taneous growth, two-thirds of the produce being lost for 
want of hands to gather it. So prolific, he says, were 
the bushes, that many which were carefully tended 


produced from five to six lbs., and some were known to 
give nine lbs. 

I have never noticed the peasantry use more than 
the manchette, a sort of chopper almost as long as a 
sword, whilst cleaning their coffee-plantations. They 
simply cut down the weeds and creepers, but never 
stir the soil around the roots with a hoe. The use of 
manure is unknown. 

The only preventable cause for any decline in the 
coffee-crop would be the neglect following the with- 
drawal of the peasantry to take part in civil wars and 
revolutions, and the lazy habits engendered by camp 
life. When riding through coffee-plantations after the 
civil wars of 1 868 and 1 869 I noticed a marked deterio- 
ration from 1864. Creepers of every description were 
suffered to grow over and almost choke the plants, and 
poor crops were sometimes the result. In Greffrard's 
time, though the cultivation was slovenly, efforts were 
made to keep the plants clean, and during the quiet 
four years of Nissage-Saget's Presidency the peasantry 
returned to their old habits. 

Notwithstanding this occasional neglect, there ap- 
pears no progressive falling off in the crops ; they vary 
as before, but on the whole keep up to the average. 

The quality of Haytian coffee is excellent, but its 
price in the market is low, from various causes. Some- 
times the crop is gathered hastily, and ripe and unripe 
seeds are mixed; and then it is dried on the bare 
ground, regardless of the state of the weather; and 



when swept up into heaps it is too often intermingled 
with small stones, leaves, and dirt; and fraudulent 
cultivators or middle-men add other substances to in- 
crease the weight. I have known carefully selected 
parcels sent to France marked Mocha, and there 
realising full prices. Nowhere is coffee made bettes 
than in Hayti ; it is roasted to a rich brown, ground 
and prepared with a sufficient allowance of the mate- 
rial, all on the same day, and the result is perfect. 

As with other crops in the world, there are good 
years and bad years ; but with neglected plants, the 
bad come oftener than they would if due attention 
were paid to their cultivation. 

In 1789, when the French possessed the island, 
the amount produced greatly exceeded anything seen 
since, with the exceptions of 1863, 1875, and 1876. 
In those years above 71,000,000 lbs. passed through 
the custom-house, and it is calculated that about 
1 5,000,000 lbs. were smuggled. 

The variations have been as follows : — 


1789 .... . 88,360,503 






















1 874 • 


1875 . 















I 1 


This striking increase in the amount of coffee 
produced since the great war would appear somewhat 
to contradict the theory of the degeneracy and idle- 
ness of the Haytians, but it must be remembered that 
the women and children are very hard-working; that 
the women are in a majority, and that the work is 
mostly done by Nature ; the men, also, are not very 
light-handed taskmasters. If a space be cleared round 
the bushes with a manchette — easy work that a child 
can do — the increase in a plantation will continue, as 
I have remarked, by the beneficent hand of Nature ; 
the heavy rains knock off the ripe berries and scatter 
them down the mountain-sides, and give rise to those 
matted undergrowths of coffee-bushes whose fecundity 
often surprises the traveller. It is not likely that the 
produce of the coffee-plants will decrease. 

During the French colonial days the principal pro- 
duct was sugar, and in the year 1789 they exported 
54,000,000 lbs. of white sugar and 107,000,000 lbs. 
of brown. As the slaves left the estates, so pro- 
duction decreased, and was fast disappearing when 


Christoplie in the north forced the people by severe 
measures to resume its manufacture. He gave the 
great estates of the old colonists to his generals and 
courtiers, with an order that they should produce a 
certain amount of sugar under pain of forfeiture. As 
they had the population under their command, and an 
unrestrained use of the stick, they succeeded fairly; 
but as soon as this pressure was removed the manu- 
facture of sugar ceased, and it is no longer found in 
the list of exports, except as a fancy article to obtain 

In 1818 the export of sugar had fallen from 
161,000,000 to 1,900,000 lbs., and in 182 1 to 
600,000 lbs. ; then it disappeared from the custom- 
house lists. 

The prejudice against sugar-making is still strong, 
though, could the owners of estates prove to their 
people that large profits would accrue to them from 
its manufacture, it is very probable that the prejudice 
would die out. A friend of mine tried to persuade 
one of his cultivators to aid him in a sugar-making 
project, but the man answered sulkily, "Mou4 pas 
esclave" ("I'm not a slave"), and walked away. The 
negroes do not like a bell to be used to ring them to 
work, as it reminds them of colonial days, but some 
bold innovators have introduced and continued the 
practice, without producing any other effect than 
occasional grumbling. 

Sugar-cane, however, is still very extensively culti- 


vated, and succeeds admirably, the soil appearing 
peculiarly adapted to it. The cane is now grown for 
making tafia or white rum, and for molasses, which 
the people use instead of sugar. Most of the factories 
built by the French were destroyed, and inferior build- 
ings have been erected in their stead. Watermills 
are generally used, as being economical, and the never- 
failing streams from the hills afford abundant power. 
A few proprietors have put up extensive machinery 
for sugar-making, but their success has been so doubt- 
ful as not to encourage others. A Haytian knows 
that during a revolution his property would not be 
respected, and, if a defeated partisan, would be either 
confiscated or destroyed ; so no encouragement is held 
out to agricultural enterprise ; and, what adds to his 
difficulties, a dangerous spirit of communism has 
spread among the people, and in many districts the 
peasantry begin to regard the estates as their own. 

Of cotton 8,400,000 lbs. were exported in 1789. 
This amount, however, soon decreased under indepen- 
dent rule : — 

In 1835 there were exported 

1,649,717 lbs. 

„ 1842 „ „ . . 

880,517 „ 

„ 1853 „ „ . . 

557,480 „ 

„ 1859 „ „ . . 

938,056 „ 

„ i860 „ „ . . 

688,735 „ 

to rise, on the outbreak of the civil 

war in the United 

States, to — 

In 1861 

1,139,439 lbs. 

„ 1862 

1,473,853 „ 


increasing until 1865, when the crop was over 
4,000,000 lbs. ; but the fall of prices occasioned 
by the collapse of the civil war in the States, from 
2s. 6d. to I id. in the course of a few months, dis- 
couraged the agriculturists, and cotton was again 
neglected. In the last commercial reports the amount 
of cotton exported from the whole republic is not 

During the Great Exhibition held in London in 
1862, the report on the cotton exhibited there by 
Hayti mentioned very favourably the two bales which 
were sent as specimens, and it remarked that England 
required at least 2,000,000 bales of each of the quali- 
ties exhibited. It has been calculated that there is 
suflScient suitable land in Hayti to furnish half the 
quantity required. This, however, a.ppears to me an 

President Geffrard was fully aware of the importance 
of taking advantage of the opportunity offered by the 
civil war in the United States, and supported two 
measures to encourage cotton cultivation. The first 
was the immigration of free blacks from America, and 
the next the offer of bounties. 

The immigration was badly managed, as blacks from 
the North Avere sent, instead of Southern cultivators. 
Most of those who arrived, being unfitted for field- 
labour in a tropical climate, added but little to the 
production of cotton. A few kept to the work, but 
many died, and most of the others either migrated to 


the towns or left the country. As might have been 
expected, the Haytian arrangements were as bad as 
they could be. Settlers were given ground without 
any water, but were told that a canal should some day 
be cut; food and money were distributed irregularly, 
and malversation added to the other difficulties. 

Bounties were scarcely required, as the price rose 
from 4d. in 1859 to is., is. 2d., and is. 5d. in 1863, 
and 2S. 6d. in 1864; and many Haytians tried to do 
something in order to win a portion of this harvest. 
Field-hands, however, were scarce, and in order to 
get in their crops the proprietors had to offer half 
the amount to those who would come and gather it 
for them. One peasant proprietor, in 1863, managed 
with his family to secure 8000 lbs. of cotton, which 
he sold for ;^50O, a sum to which he was wholly 
unaccustomed. The comparative large amounts to be 
received would have had a very great effect on the 
prosperity of the country had there been the neces- 
sary hands ready to take advantage of the opportunity 
offered. The industrious, however, were few, and many 
proprietors had to leave a portion of their crop to rot 
on the plants. 

"When the prices rose to three or four times the 

former value, the Government abolished the system 

of bounties, and imposed a tax of one penny a pound, 

but had to give that up in 1865 on the sudden fall in 

prices. The cultivation is again neglected, as Haytian 

cotton has returned to its old level of value, and the 

2 A 


land must he more useful for provision crops. Witli 
the uncertainty which characterises the supply of labour 
in Hayti, it is not likely that cotton will again become 
a very important export ; still — 

In 1885 ttere were exported . . 2,569,643 lbs. 

„ 1886 „ „ . . 2,037,653 „ 

The French appear to have paid but little attention 
to the cultivation of the cacao-tree, and in 1789 only 
exported 600,000 lbs. Even this small quantity de- 
creased, and the amount that passed through the cus- 
tom-house in 1 82 1 feU to 264,792 lbs. The crops have 
since much varied, but the export rose gradually, until — 

In. 1863 the amount was . . 2,217,769 lbs. 

„ 1885 „ „ . . . 3,939,445 „ 

„ 1886 „ „ . . . 2,037,653 „ 

Cacao is principally grown near the farthest point 
of the peninsula, west of J^remie, amid a population 
rarely visited, and reported as among the most barbarous 
of the island. 

Tobacco is not mentioned in the list of exports 
during the French period, and only appears in those 
returns which were published when the Dominican end 
of the island formed part of the Haytian republic. A 
little has been occasionally grown for home consump- 
tion, as at the Fonds-aux-Nfegres. 

Logwood is found in all parts of the country, and is 
a very important article of export. 

There is nothing else grown in Hayti which can be 


called an article of commerce, but the peasantry culti- 
vate large amounts of garden produce, and some rice 
and Indian-corn, but they do not do so in sufficient 
quantities to supply the market. Bananas for cooking 
purposes are a valuable crop, as they take the place of 
bread in the daily consumption of the people. Fruit- 
trees abound, particularly mangoes, sour oranges, and 
the avocado (alligator pear). The last fruit comes to 
great perfection, whilst the mango is inferior except 
in a few localities, and is not to be compared to the 
" number elevens " grown in Jamaica. 

The markets of the capital are well supplied with 
European vegetables, which are grown in the moun- 
tains at the back of La Coupe, the old summer resort 
of the people of the capital. When staying there, I 
have often walked to the gardens at the foot of Fort 
Jaques, where not only vegetables may be found, but 
many orchards full of peach-trees — sadly neglected, 
however — with their branches covered with long moss, 
to the exclusion of leaf and fruit. A few apples and 
chestnuts are occasionally brought to market. Fort 
Jaques is situated about 6000 feet above the level of 
the sea. I may notice that the peaches are usually 
picked before they ripen, on account of the pilfering 
habits of the people. 

There is little to be said about the domestic animals. 
The horses are generally small, but strong and full of 
endurance, and are of Spanish breed. Mules and don- 
keys are plentiful, as no person is satisfied unless he 


possesses some beast of burden. The cattle are sup- 
plied from the Dominican part of the island, and are 
much used for traction. Good beef may often be found 
in the markets. Sheep and goats are plentiful, but of 
inferior breeds, whilst pigs wander about untended, and 
are generally so lean that they warrant the reproach 
that the Haytians cannot even fatten a pig. Poultry 
are thought to be getting scarcer than formerly ; they 
are generally of an inferior kind. 


Hayti has for many years carried on a very fair 
commerce with Europe and America, though probably 
not a quarter of what she might have if her inhabitants 
were industrious. In the colonial days, the exports 
were valued at from ;^ 6,000,000 to ;^ 8,000,000 a year, 
and in 1790 had reached nearly ;^ 11,000,000 with a 
less numerous population, whilst the highest since the 
independence has probably not exceeded ;£'2,300,ooo. 

Notwithstanding foreign wars, civil wars, insurrec- 
tions, and those continued conspiracies which have 
almost every year disturbed the country, the productive 
powers of the soil are so great that nothing appears 
permanently to depress the exports, and therefore the 

The export trade of Hayti in 1835, which then in- 
cluded the whole island, was as follows : — 




Cofifee . 

• 48,352.371 



• i3.293>737 


Cotton . 

• 1,649,717 


Mahogany, feet 

• 5,413,316 





Cacao . 




At the exchange of the day this represented just 
;^ 1,000,000 sterling. The last year in which the 
statistics refer to the whole island is 1842. 

M. Madiou, in his "History of Hayti," vol. i. p. 31, 
gives the amount of the produce exported in the years 
1842 and 1845, but does n9t affix a value to them : — 


Coflfee . 

Cotton . 
Cigars . 

40,759,064 lbs. 
880,517 „ 

19,563,147 „ 
2,518,612 „ 
700,000 No. 
4,096,716 feet 

and various small amounts of miscellaneous articles. 

It will be remarked that in the returns for 1845 
tobacco has ceased to appear, as Santo Domingo had 
by this time separated from Hayti. M. Madiou states 
that about 5,000,000 lbs. of coffee are consumed in the 
island, which is probably an under-estimate, consider- 
ing the lavish manner in which it is used, and that 
20,000,000 lbs. are exported as contraband, to avoid 
the heavy duties. This calculation appears too high. 
Whilst I was in Hayti the illicit trade was estimated 



to represent from 1 5 to 20 per cent, of the acknowledged 
exports. Much, however, depends on the character of 
the men in power. 


Coffee 41,002,571 lbs. 

Cotton 557,480 „ 

Logwood and other woods . . 68,181,588 „ 

Mahogany 7,904,285 feet 

The other woods consist of lignum vitse, &c. It is 
curious that he makes no mention of cacao. 

In the next returns it will be noticed how mahogany 
decreased — the cuttings near the coast were beginning 
to be exhausted — whilst the exports of logwood were 
greatly incresised. This is work that just suits the 
negro; it can be done by fits and starts, and never 
requires continuous labour. The following tables may 
appear superfluous, but they show the effect of com- 
paratively orderly government. These six years were 
free from any serious civil trouble, and no foreign com- 
plications prevented all development that was possible. 
The war in the States gave trade considerable impulse. 

Coffee . 
Cacao . 

Coffee . 



41,712,106 lbs. 
88,177,600 „ 
938,056 „ 

1.397,364 „ 
2,690,044 feet 

60,514,289 lbs. 
104,321,200 „ 



668,735 lbs. 

Cacao . 

1,581,806 „ 

Mahogany . 


2,264,037 feet 

Coffee . 

45,660,889 lbs. 


ios>757,oso „ 


1,139,439 „ 

Cacao . 

1,304,561 „ 

Mahogany . 


1,659,272 feet 

Coffee . 

54,579,059 lbs. 

Logwood . 

167,005,650 „ 


1,473,853 „ 

Cacao . 

1,743,853 „ 

Mahogany . 


2,441,887 feet 

Coffee . 

71,712,345 lbs. 

Logwood . 

116,669,400 „ 


2,217,769 „ 

Cacao . 

2,338,400 „ 

Mahogany . 


2,016,557 feet 

Coffee . 

45,168,764 lbs. 


153,235,100 „ 


3,237,594 „ 

Cacao . 

1,399,941 „ 

Mahogany . 

2,369,501 feet 


No trustworthy statistics could be obtained for tbe 
time of Soulouque, on account of the monopolies and 
the various interferences with commerce. In 1 865 the 
siege of Cap Haitien, and the outbreaks which followed 
in 1866, the fall of Geffrard in 1867, and the civil war 
of 1868 and 1869, completely disturbed trade, and no 
reliable statistics can be obtained. 


The trade return of the year 1880 is as follows : — 

CofiFee . 

• 55,562,897 Iba. 

Logwood . 

. 321,729,801 „ 

Cacao . 

2,729,853 „ 


957.962 „ 

Mahogany . 

71,478 feet 

Sugar . 

2,397 lbs. 

The imports of the year 1884-85 were ;^i,oo2,092 
The exports „ „ „ 1,311,665 

The imports of the year 1885-86 amounted to ^827,542 
The exports „ „ „ 1,259,332 

Exports of i884-8s- 

Quantities of Principal Articles 

Coffee . 

. 74,046,371 lbs. 


. 297,548,750 „ 

Cacao . 

3,939.445 „ 


2,569,643 „ 

Hides . 

■ ' • • ■ 436,579 „ 


118,793 feet 

£'a:^orts 0/1885-86. 


• 58,075,733 lbs. 


. 282,620,852 „ 

Cacao . 

3,156,957 „ 


2,037,658 „ 

Hides . 

343.051 „ 


■iir_ -1 

95,809 feet 

Mr. Mackenzie, who was English Consul-General at 
Port-au-Prince during the years 1826 and 1827, gives 
a table of the commerce of Hayti in 1825, which in- 
cludes the whole island. 





Value of Cargoes 


• 374 



British . 

• 78 



French . 

• 65 



German . 

• 17 




. 18 




The large amount of American vessels will be noticed, 
and the comparative extent of their trade. In 1864 
English-saUing shipping rose to 281 vessels (of 41,199 
tonnage) and 74 steamers, against those under the 
American flag, 88 sailing vessels (of 16,316 tonnage) 
and 2 steamers. This, however, was only nominal, 
the ravages of the Alabama having induced American 
shipowners to transfer their vessels to the British flag. 
In 1877 the tonnage of vessels calling at the three 
chief ports of Hayti (Port-au-Prince, Cap Haitien, and 
Les Cayes) was as follows : 

Flag, Tonnage.' 

British 184,331 

French 91,562 

German 80,561 

American 22,350 

It must he noticed, however, that the English, French, 
and German tonnage consists principally of steamers, 
which have ports of call on the island, whereas the 
Americans have two- fifths of the sailing tonnage. 

In 1863 the imports into Hayti amounted to 
;^i,743,oS2, and in 1864 to ;^2,04S,333. The United 
States then held the first place, having sent ^762,724 


and £gg4,266, their imports, as usual, being princi- 
pally provisions and lumber. England occupied the 
second position with ;£'so3,630 and £626,624.; France, 
£2SS>747 and £273,^78. Both in the years 1863 and 
1864 there was a great decrease in the amount of 
provisions grown in the country, partly on account 
of the increase of cotton cultivation; hence the very 
heavy imports of provisions from the United States. 

The exports in 1863 and 1864 were valued at 
;£■ 2,458,000 and ;£■ 1,895,000, the decrease arising from 
the inferiority of the coffee-crop and the fall in the 
price of goods. The average value of the principal 
articles of export varied as follows : — 

Articles. 1863. 1864. 

Coffee, per 100 lbs. . £2 9 35 £2 5 o 

^ , j^^^ ^^^ , . j^^ -y J.J ^^~ J 

Logwood, per 1000 lbs. 129 o 17 10 

Cotton, per lb. . .014 02" 

Cacao, per 100 lbs. .194 16 

Prices have fallen to an unprecedented extent. 
During the autumn of the year 1882 coffee was once 
quoted as low as i6s. per 100 lbs., but rose after- 
wards to 24s., and in 1886 as high as 38s.; and all 
other produce was also depreciated in value. 

In 1876 the total imports into the island were 
;^ 2,1 10,000; the total exports, ;^ 2,200,000. 

In 1877 the total imports were ;^ 1,594,200; the 
total exports, ;^ 1,694,800, which was below the 

In 1877 the imports into the capital were as follows. 


which shows a marked change in the position of the 
importing countries : — 

Great Britain ;£6i9,9oo 

United States no 200 

France 103,100 

Germany 36,880 

In some of the smaller ports the position of the 
trade of the United States was relatively better. In 
Les Cayes, for instance : — 

United States ^119,172 

Great Britain 23,692 

France 22,030 

Germany 1,715 

A portion of these imports from the United States 
consisted of manufactures in transit from England. 
We appear to be holding the first position everywhere 
as regards piece goods and iron, whilst five-sixths of 
the imports of the United States consist of flour, salt 
pork, and other provisions. The Haytians are Prench 
in their tastes, but the cheapness of our Manchester 
goods enables our importers to hold their own. The 
great export, coffee, appears ultimately to reach French 
ports, as it is not appreciated in other countries, 
whereas its cheapness and good quality recommend it 
strongly to the French Government for the use of the 

When in Port-au-Prince I drew the attention of the 
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to the great dis- 
crepancy between their published returns and those 


of our Board of Trade. In 1865 our exports are set 
down at ;£'i, 163,274, and in 1866 at ;^i,425,402, 
for the whole island. Santo Domingo takes but a 
small quantity, whilst the Haytian custom-house did 
not acknowledge more than half the amount of our 
returns. Either we over-value our goods in England, 
or the smuggling must be large. 

The imports from the United States appear to have 
greatly fallen off since 1864, which must imply that 
the peasantry are planting more food and consuming 
a very much smaller amount of imported provisions. 


As in most American republics, the income of the 
Haytian State depends chiefly on the custom-house. 
It is said the people will not bear direct taxation, and 
that therefore the Government must rely on import 
and export duties. The heavy debt which was imposed 
on Hayti by France nearly sixty years ago has been 
the principal cause of the financial embarrassments of 
the republic. 

The mission of Baron Mackau, sent by Charles X. 
in 1825, had for object the imperfect recognition of 
the independence of the republic of Hayti, on condition 
of their paying ;^6,ooo,ooo as an indemnity to the 
old colonists — a sum quite out of the power of the 
country to raise — and only five years were allowed to 


complete the transaction. One is at a loss to under- 
stand how President Boyer could have consented to 
so burdensome an arrangement. Subsequently the 
indemnity was reduced to ^^ 3,600,000, but although 
fifty-eight years have passed a balance remained due 
in 1884. It was not till 1838 that these arrangements 
were concluded, and France definitively recognised the 
independence of Hayti. The republic had effected a 
loan in Paris in 1825 of ;£■ 1,200,000 nominal to pay 
the first instalment due, and even this debt had not 
been completely settled. The whole transaction proved 
a cruel burden on the country, and, %by introducing 
heavy export duties and the curse of paper money, 
greatly injured agricultural and every other interest. 

In the last statement (1887) I have seen referring 
to the debts of Hayti no mention is made of any por- 
tion of the old French indebtedness remaining due, so 
probably the last instalments have been paid. The 
whole exterior and interior debts of Hayti now amount 
to about ;£'2,2 50,000. 

The import duties averaged formerly about 30 per 
cent, on the value, but have now been considerably 
increased, whilst the export duties are at so much a 
quintal on coffee, and have varied according to the 
exigencies of the moment. I propose to give here only 
the general results; but I may say that the duties 
embrace almost every article, and are as high as they 
can bear. 

The progress of the revenue collected in Hayti is 


another proof to me that the population has greatly 

It is not necessary to examine the budgets of many 
years. In 1821, before the union with Santo Domingo, 
the income is stated by Mackenzie to have been 
$3,570,691, and the expenditure $3461,993. In these 
sums must be included some exceptional receipts and 
expenditure, as the revenue of the whole island in 
1825 was only $2,421,592. The long and quiet Pre- 
sidency of Boyer, coupled with his honest administra- 
tion, enabled him not only to pay off considerable sums 
to France, but to leave a heavy balance in the treasury. 
Boyer, however, has the demerit of having introduced 
paper currency, and of having put into circulation 
$2,500,000 more than he withdrew, thus reducing the 
exchange of the doubloon from 16 to i (par) to 40 
to I. 

After Boyer came the period of revolutions, and con- 
sequent deficits and heavy issues of paper money. In 
four years they had sent down the exchange to $60 to 
one doubloon. But the disastrous period of Haytian 
financial history was the reign of Soulouque, when 
milHons of paper dollars were issued every year, send- 
ing down the exchange to $289 to one doubloon. 

In 1849 no less than $4,195,400 were issued to meet 
the expenses of the establishment of the empire. 

The budget for 1848, the last year of the republic, 
is nominally a very modest one (exchange $25 to 


■^™y .... $3,232,238 = ;fl29,289 

Interior .... 77o,39S = 30,815 

Finance and foreign affairs 668,814 = 26,752 

Justice, education, public ) 

worship. . . I 303,393 = 12,135 

;£ 1 98,993 

But as 2,200,000 paper dollars were issued during 
the year, it is probable that this budget was not ad- 
hered to. 

The budget for the year in which the empire was 
established is given as follows (exchange $40 to ;^i) : — 

■Aj'my $3,810,216 = ^95,255 

Interior .... 735,93/' = 18,398 

Finance, &c. . . . 2,237,389 = 55,934 

Justice, &c 309,293 = 7,732 

17,092,835 = £177,3,19 

But these budgets are not to be trusted, and do not 
represent the real expenses. 

When the accounts were examined subsequent to the 
fall of Soulouque, it was found that o£ the coffee mono- 
poly alone ;^400,ooo had been abstracted for the use of 
the Emperor and some of his Ministers and favourites. 
The comparatively large sums of ;^40,ooo, ;£'20,ooo, and 
£1 2,000 were taken at a time, without any account being 
rendered. During Soulouque's reign over |28,ooo,ooo 
were added to the currency. 

In June 1863, General Dupuy, Finance Minister 
to President Geffrard, published a very clear financial 



statement. The total debt remaining due to France 
was ;£■!, 436,000. The custom duties produced — 

In i860 ^511,666 

„ 1861 463.333 


In 1859 
„ i860 

„' I86I 
• 1862 

Minor taxes, ;£26,34i. 



These were calculated on the amount of paper money 
signed to meet them, but at the close of 1862 there 
was ^79,834 in hand. 

The budget of 1863-64 was fixed as follows : — 



Pkiance . . .£67,776 

Duties . . ^564,050 

Foreign Oifice . 171,828 

Minor taxes . 24,725 

"War . . . 138,361 

Interior . . 171,692 

Public instruction 44,825 

Justice and public ) _j 
worsbip . 



The deficit was met by adding ten per cent, to the 

During the Presidency of General Gefixard the 
finances were better administered than under Sou- 
louque, but millions of dollars disappeared, without any 
one being found willing to give an account of what 


had become of them. One coloured and two black 
generals are supposed to have appropriated the prin- 
cipal portion. On the Chamber of Deputies venturing 
to make inquiries on this interesting point, it was sum- 
marily dismissed, and a packed Chamber substituted. 

Civil war ended by General Geffrard resigning and 
quitting the country. I do not believe, however, that 
he carried with him more than he could have fairly 
saved out of his salary. He, moreover, -was the only 
President that I knew who kept up the position of 
chief of the State with any dignity. 

No budgets were procurable during Salnave's time, 
and the civil war that was carried on during three 
years caused. the Government and insurgents to issue 
paper money, so that before Salnave's fall this paper 
currency was to be obtained at 3000 paper to one 
silver dollar. It was withdrawn by the subsequent 
Government at 10 to i for their own paper. 

The finances under General Nissage-Saget were, for 
Hayti, at first decently administered ; but when the 
bad black element from the south entered into its 
councils malversation became the order of the day. 
But during this Presidency a great change was made 
in the currency; all paper money was withdrawn at 
an exchange of 300 to i, and Am6.rican silver dollars 
substituted. This change was much criticised both 
before and since, as unsuited to the circumstances of 
the country. On the whole, the balance of arguments 

was in favour of a metallic currency. 

2 B 



Under President Domingue there were no honest 
financial measures taken. Everything was done to 
suit the pleasure of Septimus Eameau, and a loan was 
raised in France, and the largest portion distributed 
among the friends of the Minister in a manner which 
astonished even Haytians. It was a disgraceful trans- 
action, that the next Chamber endeavoured to ignore ; 
but as it was supported by the French agents, the 
Government of Boisrond-Canal had to yield and ac- 
knowledge it. 

For the years 1876 and 1877 we have the receipts 
and expenditure stated in detail. The income from 
duties, &c., was ^^805,900; the expenditure,;^ 804,737; 
including £202,%']6 to the sinking fund. The army 
and navy figure for only ;^ 167,568, and public instruc- 
tion was increased to ;^ 82, 245. In Soulouque's budget 
of 1849, justice, education, and public worship were 
credited with only ;f 7732. 

Budget for 1S76-77. 

Finance and commerce 
Foreign relations 
War and marine . 
Interior and agriculture 

Public instruction 
Public worship . 
District chest (communes) 
Sinkins fund 

The budget of 1S81 is as follows : — 






Finance and commerce .... /67610 

Foreign relations . . . ^g'g-^ 


Interior . 

Justice . . 

Public instruction . 

Public worship 





The amount of the income to meet this expenditure is 
not stated. 

The budget of 1885-1886 is as follows, reducing 
dollars into pounds sterling at |6 per pound : — 


Foreign affairs . . . . 
Finance and commerce . 

. .£14,845 
. 86,804 


Interior . 
Agriculture . 
Public instruction . 

. 182,689 

• ^63,579 

• 42,495 

Justice ... 

• 52,700 

Public worship . . . . 




Import duties 


Export duties 



Deduct payments of instalments . 
of difl'erent debts . 




The circulating medium in the early days of Hay- 


tian independence consisted of foreign gold and silver 
coins, and then some fabricated in the country, of infe- 
rior quality and appearance, of both silver and copper. 
In 1 826 President Boyer, beginning to feel the pressure 
of his engagements with France, issued paper notes of 
different values. Being irredeemable, they soon fell to a 
heavy discount, 2J to i. The succeeding Governments, 
as I have noticed, continued the same course, until, 
on the accession of Soulouque to power, the exchange 
was about 4 J to' i. The unchecked emissions after he 
ascended the imperial throne gradually lessened the 
value of the paper, until in 1858 it was 18 to i. 

Some order having been put into the finances by 
General Dupuy, the exchange in 1863 was more 
favourable, being 12J to i ; the troubles which suc- 
ceeded in 1865 sent it to 17 to i ; and with the 
revolutionary Government of Salnave and the civil 
war that followed, it went down like the assignats 
during the French Eevolution, — in 1867, 30 to i ; 
in 1869, 3000 to I. 

The issues of Salnave's Government were so dis- 
credited that they were at one time exchanged at 
6500 paper dollars for one of silver. Until lately 
the American dollar and its fractions, with a plentiful 
bronze currency, sufficed for all wants. Now, how- 
ever, a special Haytian dollar is being coined, with 
the object apparently of preventing its export — a very 
futile expedient, as experience proves. 

A sort of National Bank, managed principally by 


Frenchmen, was established a few years since, but its 
operations do not as yet appear to have had much 
influence on the country. As the bank, however, has 
some control over the collection of duties, it may intro- 
duce a more honest collection of these imposts ; but I 
do not think the managers will find that their lines 
have fallen in pleasant places. 



**«A»i**(rt*M»|SW»-. ^,